Since its opening in 1912, the iconic Spreckels Theatre has played an integral part in the cultural life of San Diego. It is named after the sugar tycoon John D. Spreckels, who commissioned it at the cost of $1 million to celebrate the Panama Canal opening.
Designed by the renowned architect Harrison Albright, the six-story building earned ecstatic reviews for its Chicago-style exterior, beautiful baroque interior, and state-of-the-art mechanics. At its premiere, a leading critic hailed it as "one of the most beautiful theatres globally." Even today, its acoustics are rated as among the best internationally.
There are no pillars to obstruct your view of the enormous stage, which was among the largest ever built at 82 feet x 58 feet. A spectacular mural over the proscenium arch depicts Apollo, the God of the Sun, in his chariot. Ironic then, that early production of Ben Hur featured live horses charging around the stage during the chariot race scene!
Another fantastic feature of this architectural gem is the spectacular two-story entrance to the auditorium, named the Grand Lobby.
It is covered in stunning predora onyx from Mexico. The beautiful glass artwork over the entrance is more recent, created by Yaakov Agam in 1983. The Grand Lobby also features unique displays of theatre history and memorabilia. You'll find photos of the many legends of stage and screen who have played at the Spreckels Theatre over the century since it opened.
In the early years, Spreckels was used to stage cabaret shows, before moving with the times to become a silent movie house. It continued as a venue for first-run movies until the 1970s. After a significant renovation, live shows were once again presented.
Over the past hundred years, the Theatre has been modernized to allow the staging of even larger and more spectacular productions without losing its original character and beauty.
Spreckels accommodates an audience of over 1400 people. Seats in the Orchestra level ensure that you will feel closest to the action, while the Mezzanine and Balcony sections still give a fabulous view of the stage with no columns in the way to block your view. With all the changes it has gone through over the years, as soon as you walk in, you'll feel the special atmosphere and heritage of this unique part of San Diego's history.
Since its opening, the Spreckels Theatre owners' mission has remained unchanged: to stay true to their promise of offering the highest quality theatrical productions, featuring artists and companies from all over the world.
Spreckels Theatre is located at 121 Broadway, in the heart of the lively Gaslamp District, and is one of the 94 historic buildings found in this area of Downtown San Diego. Renowned for its buzzing nightlife, it's a great place to wander around, before or after a show, to sample some of the fantastic restaurants and bars nearby.