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TImes Change…And the Show Must Go On

TImes Change…And the Show Must Go On

TImes Change…And the Show Must Go On
March 27
20:43 2014

The Bing Crosby Theater is a historical landmark in downtown Spokane that is changing with the times. Through many incarnations and renovations, its marquis still shines bright. I had the opportunity to learn more about this gem of Spokane from Theater Manager Michael Smith.

Please tell us about the Bing Theater’s history?

Originally, it was named the Clemmer, then the Met, and now the Bing. After its first decade, the Clemmer was scooped up in a campaign by movie studios to own the theaters where their films were shown. Paulsen and Clemmer sold their interests to Carl Leammle’s Universal Studios in 1925. The new manager, Roy Boomer, decided to try to generate interest by hiring live acts to perform between movies. One of the performers he hired was a local jazz drummer and sometime singer by the name of Harry Crosby.

In 1929, Universal sold the theater to a new Spokane owner who renamed it the Audian. Two years later, the theater changed hands again and became the State Theater. Operating under that name for the next half century, it became a fixture of Spokane’s night life until it closed as a movie theater in 1985.

The building was purchased by the Metropolitan Mortgage Company and completely renovated before reopening in 1988. Its stage was enlarged and it began a new life as a theater for live shows under the name of Metropolitan Theater of Performing Arts (the Met).

When its sponsor, the Metropolitan Mortgage Company, went out of business in 2004, the theater was purchased by Spokane businessman Mitch Silver and continued its role as a venue for touring shows and for local organizations that use it as their home stage. In 2006, a citizens group received Silver’s permission to rename the theater and raised money to build a new marquee. It has been the Bing Crosby Theater ever since.

In February of 2012, GVD Commercial Properties, Inc. purchased the theater from Mitch Silver.

Is the theater open year-round or does it go dark?

The theater is open year-round.

Who is the most recognizable person that’s performed at the Bing?

Wynton Marsalis, Lindsey Buckingham, Pearl Jam—maybe Bing Crosby himself?

Have any of your productions/performances had gay themes?

Yes—singer Susan Westheimer, author and humorist David Sedaris, and “8” the Play.

What shows are currently running? Are there local and national productions?

Performances/productions of all calibers—from local youth theater to international acts. Some upcoming shows are Musicfest NW, Pokey LaFarge, CYT’s Alladin, and Jonny Lang. We’ve recently had Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, as well as Cowboy Junkies perform.

How would theatergoers get information on seating and pricing?

You can go directly to the Bing Crosby Theater website for information on seating, pricing and showtimes: www.bingcrosbytheater.com.

 Thank you for imparting your knowledge about the Bing Crosby Theater with our readers.

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