Thalian Hall 20th Century

Commercial theatre began to boom at the beginning of the twentieth century and as the most populated city in North Carolina, Wilmington would always come up with the numbers for large audiences at the Opera House which was giving close to one hundred performances a year. Simon Schloss was responsible for a great amount of the theatre's success. He held the lease on the theatre and brought numerous productions to the area. In keeping with the times, he renamed the Opera House the "Academy of Music" and began to make appropriate additions to the theatre such as an orchestra pit, changes to the balconies and a redecoration of the inside of the theatre, which shows today's visitors the exit as it was back then.

In 1928, a new organization was formed by various residents of Wilmington and came to be known as the Thalian Association Community Theatre. This association was a dominating dramatic force for the next several decades and still exists today, presenting seasonal plays each year at Thalian Hall. By the 1930's, commercial theatre productions began to decline and fewer performances were given at the Academy, which by then had been renamed "Thalian Hall." Only two touring events played here during this time. Productions continued to drop off during the war years but picked up again in the 1950s with several notable dramas given by the association including Anastasia, The Little Foxes and Picnic.

In the 1960's, Wilmington College became associated with the local theatre. The college and the Thalian Association entered into a five year agreement to co-produce performances at Thalian Hall and some of them included hits such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and My Fair Lady. The 60's also saw the creation of what is now known as the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts Inc., which undertakes the restoration and preservation of the Hall.

In 1973, a fire caused a great amount of damage to the historic interior of the hall which resulted in an overwhelming influx of support and funds from the citizens of Wilmington to help save and restore this historical landmark. One Thalian Hall was repaired, the arts began to flourish in Wilmington once again. The motion picture industry came to the city, bringing with it an increase in employment for locals and actors alike and also attracting theatre professionals.

During the 1980's, a major plan was made to further restore and expand Thalian Hall and once again, Wilmingtonians rose to the occasion by helping to raise the funds needed. This was the biggest renovation and expansion in the hall's 130 year existence and by its completion and reopening in 1990, it was a highlighted attraction during the city's 250th Anniversary Celebration. Several professional and amateur theatre companies gave performances during this event.

Today, Thalian Hall is one of the most greatly utilized theatres of its kind. The three venues of the hall play host to over 400 events each year and draw annual crowds of almost 100,000. With an enduring love of entertainment and appreciation of the arts, visitors and locals alike continue to enjoy the splendor of Thalian Hall and pay homage to its glorious, historical past. Its connection to the city of Wilmington and importance of being part of the historic downtown area will ensure that the "show will always go on" at this piece of theatrical history.

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