Information on:

The Moore Theatre

1932 Second Avenue

Built in 1907, the Moore Theatre is the oldest remaining theatre in Seattle. The original owner, James A. Moore, was a flamboyant developer responsible for many of the early homes and structures in downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill. The first building on the regraded Second Avenue, the Moore created a general shift away from Pioneer Square as the central business district while firmly establishing Second Avenue as the "film/theatre district" for Seattle. Architect E.W. Houghton gave the theatre a simple exterior with Italian and Byzantine terra-cotta details, while focusing much of the visual beauty on an opulent interior. Hailed as one of the most beautiful and completely equipped playhouses in the United States, the Moore boasted a grand lobby with mosaic floors, marble, onyx, carved wood, stained glass, and metal. There was also a ceiling fresco in old rose, cream and gold. Beams were supported by Muses representing Drama and Music. The theatre interior was resplendent with clusters of lights, rich hangings, and stained-glass paneling.

Twenty-five hundred enthusiastic Seattleites arrived for the opening night celebration. The program featured a locally written and produced comic-opera entitled "The Alaskan" which went on to a successful Broadway run. Throughout the first ten years the new Moore Theatre presented stage plays, operas, symphonies, and musicals.

For the next decade the Moore was host to the famous Orpheum vaudeville circuit. The largest of its kind in North America, all the legends and wonders of American vaudeville played the Moore stage. In fact, the Moore was also home to "The Negro Ensemble," a popular local group of vaudevillians. However, while the Moore Theatre certainly has a history of diverse programming, receptivity to diverse audiences has not always been the case. Built into the theatre was a separate side entrance leading directly to the top balcony. Despite being the home to many, many black performers, African-Americans were not allowed entry into the theatre except through this "back door" to the balcony. When the Orpheum Theatre was built in 1927, the Moore's vaudeville contract came to an end.

The Great Depression was, ironically, perhaps the most active and exciting time at the Moore. Due to the leadership of Cecilia Schultz, one of the great pioneers of the arts in Seattle, the Moore presented many of the most distinguished European and American singers, musicians, and dancers. Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, the Barrymores, Marie Dressier, and Anna Pavlova were just a few of the first-class performers seen at the Moore throughout the thirties.

The following decades at the Moore were rather unstable; programming at the Moore was less established as the theatre searched for a niche in an ever-changing market. After a three-year lease between 1949-51 in which the Moore was used as a revival house, the theatre became strictly a rental house. Throughout the 50's and 60's road shows, boxing matches, travel-films and special events were the mainstay of the Moore.

After re-modeling in 1955, the Moore re-opened with a season featuring local "artists-in-residence" such as the Amusa Kabuki troupe. Other local visual artists were featured in the newly converted mezzanine art gallery. Among those presented in the first exhibit were Mark Tobey, George Tsutakawa, Guy Anderson, June Nye, and Kenneth Callahan.

In 1974 the Moore Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This status, however, did not guarantee financial or artistic stability as the theatre struggled to remain open. One year later two local film connoisseurs leased the theatre and after several months of cleaning and slight remodeling the theatre re-opened as the "Moore-Egyptian"--this time a foreign and "revival" movie theater. Home to the first Seattle International Film Festival, the Moore returned to stage arts when the pair lost the lease after five years and went on to open the Egyptian on Capitol Hill.
After the successive renovations and cleanings new and larger seats have been put reducing the capacity to 1419 seats; also the box seats have been taken out.
In the last twenty years the Moore has defined itself as a venue for both local community events, such as lectures, beauty pageants, and local dance or musical groups, and as a home for more "alternative" touring musicians and theatre. Virtually every musical genre, from the most hard-core punk to flashy funk, has had a place on the Moore stage in recent years.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Seats are quite narrow, nice architectural details, good standup comedy venue. Second balcony wasn't too much of a climb with the lowest level being below street level and second balcony being just above it. Gentle ramps get you to the bottom of the second balcony and stairs after that. The armrests are close together and there aren't seats you can upgrade to for more comfort. Plus size or wide shouldered people will want aisle seats and possibly want to purchase an empty seat next to them. I'll be bringing a seat cushion too, but I am unusually sensitive to sitting in springy, hard edged seats. Was my review helpful? Please give a like.

Bruce Rodich

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Very nice small vaudeville era theater filled with its original charm and character. Wine and beer service make for a nice intermission. Good visibility and sound roll through the theater, even from the cheap seats up high. I’ve been here several times and it’s always a great experience. This is one of my absolute favorite concert venues in the entire city. The Moore Theatre gets my highest recommendation!

Matthew Neaves

Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018
Saw buddy guy here, which was such a privilege for which I can thank a very generous coworker. The theater is gilded and detailed beautifully. The dome above the theatre is an immaculate work of art that gives the impression of being from another age. It is really anachronistic to see this kind of performer here, but it was great. Beers are too expensive though. Go drink at the cash only bar next door before the show.

Eric Townsend

Monday, Aug. 13, 2018
Great experience for our kids to go see Dan and Phil. The theater is being renovated but is not a problem. I've attached a photo of us waiting in line during constructing to show there was no problem. Is a beautiful, old style, theater.

Steven Sparkman

Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018
Great theater. Seating was okay for a theater that age, and the views were good. My only complaint was that it was so hot us in the balcony that I was sweating at 9pm. Still had a great time and will go back.

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