Theatre Tours

2018 Theatre Tours - Austin, TX
2018 Theatre Tour information is tentative.
All venues, dates, times and order of visits subject to change.

Pre-Conference Theatre
Ramble Sponsored by:


Pre-Conference Theatre Ramble, 07.15.18

Austin Scottish Rite Theater, Austin ●
Gaslight Baker Theatre, Lockhart ●
Majestic Theatre, San Antonio ●
Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, San Antonio ●
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, San Antonio ●
Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre, New Braunfels ●

Conference Theatre Tours, 07.18.18

Paramount Theatre, Austin ●
State Theatre, Austin ●

Last updated: 07.06.18

Austin Scottish Rite Theater, Austin

Excerpted from the Austin Scottish Rite Theater website...

Austin Scottish Rite Theater is an Austin gem – a fully operational modern theater thriving within a stunning historic landmark. SRT is Austin's oldest theater, erected in 1871, the same year Austin became the capitol of Texas. For forty years it was a German opera house; then in 1914 it became the home of the Scottish Rite Masons who treasured the site and remain watchful tenants of the building. In 2004 the Masons created the non-profit theater organization that exists today; nestled amid the State Capitol, University of Texas, and Austin's museum district, we at Scottish Rite are dedicated to building community through the arts. We provide quality shows for all ages, with enriching programming for children. For almost a century and a half, innumerable artists and events of all kinds have graced our venue, from the operas and circus trapeze acts that wowed crowds during the 19th Century to the live world music and multimedia children's programming that delight Austinites today.

Our excellent programming is created by experienced professionals and purposefully designed to meet the needs of diverse cultural communities in Austin. In our dedication to diversity we amend or avoid programming that perpetuates non-inclusive values. Our strategies include cross-casting, adaptation, new works, and community-based collaboration to meet the needs of all.

Visit their website for more information.

Photo courtesy of the Austin Scottish Rite Theater

Return to Top

Gaslight Baker Theatre, Lockhart

Excerpted from the Gaslight Baker Theatre website

Groundbreaking took place during the first week of July 1920. Apparently work progressed rapidly, for in its October 21st edition the Post-Register reported that the theater would open on October 29th. A crowd of "fifteen hundred or two thousand people" jammed into the Baker Theater on opening night to see two performances of In Old Kentucky, starring Anita Stewart. Prior to the main performance, the image of consummate showman Col. Baker was flashed on the screen which "brought forth uproarious applause" from the grateful audience. Two "traveling men" who attended the opening night performance proclaimed the theater the "most modern in the state, with appointments the equal of those of theatres in much larger cities".

The most significant improvement and expenditure was the addition of air conditioning. Johnson Air Conditioning of San Antonio installed the chilled water system. A glass-walled cry room was also provided in the area currently occupied by the concession stand. One can easily imagine the wonder and amazement of the citizens of Lockhart when they first entered this fantasy world.

Col. Baker died on September 12, 1936 in Lockhart. The Baker Show Company, Inc. owned the theater until 1959, but little is known of this period. The second of the Baker's major renovations was performed during this time, probably in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, nearly all the rich decorations of the 1933 remodeling was removed and the theater was given the "modern" appearance it exhibits today. One area that received an especially severe treatment was the ground floor main facade. The pinkish-tan ceramic tile, angled front wall, and enlarged marquee date from this period.

In 1959 the Baker was purchased by August Valentine. August, his wife, Anne, and daughters Augusta, Valerie, Alice and Virginia had previously operated a drive-in theater in Georgetown for several years. The Valentine family ran the Baker until 1984. The suspended acoustical ceiling and gas air conditioning were installed during their ownership of the theater. "Christine," the last film, was shown on March 1, 1984.

The theater remained closed until its purchase by the Lockhart Community Theater in 1997. It was then remodeled to accommodate live theatrical productions. The theater reopened in October, 1998 with "Steel Magnolias."

Return to Top

Majestic Theatre, San Antonio

Excerpted from the Majestic and Empire Theatres website

Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, Texas, the Majestic Theatre was built in 1929 and was designed in a Spanish Mediterranean style by John Eberson for Karl Hoblitzelle's Interstate Theatres.

The Majestic Theatre is an example of Ambassador Theatre Group's ability to work within public, private partnerships — in this case the City of San Antonio as owner of the theatre, and Las Casas Foundation, a local non-profit organization, in a successful effort to turn the historic movie theatre into a landmark, modern performing arts facility. During the 1980s and 90s, $9 million renovation and stage expansion costs were raised by Las Casas Foundation, with substantial investments from the City of San Antonio, ACE and local philanthropies.

The 2,264 seat Majestic Theatre is a National Historic Landmark, and is currently home to the Broadway in San Antonio series, along with a wide variety of concerts and performing arts attractions. The Majestic Theatre is currently operating under Ambassador Theatre Group's management on a self-sustaining basis.

Visit their website for more information.

Photo by John Dyer
Courtesy of San Antonio CVB

Return to Top

Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, San Antonio

Photo courtesy of San Antonio CVB

Excerpted from the Majestic and Empire Theatres website

The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre was built in 1913 on the site of the former Rische's Opera House in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Designed in the style of a European palazzo by architects Mauran, Russell & Crow of St. Louis, the Empire operated as a vaudeville house and then a motion picture theatre.

The Empire's grandeur was prematurely concealed by inappropriate repairs to extensive flood damage in 1921. After a long, slow decline, the vaudeville house, turned B-run movie theatre, closed its doors in 1978.

Redeveloped as part of the neighboring Majestic Theatre project, fundraising efforts by Las Casas Foundation, a local non-profit organization, restored the forgotten luster of the interior of the theatre, and the venue reopened as the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in 1998 after $5 million in renovations. The 856 seat Empire is equipped with a flexible seating system on the main floor, providing the capability for theatre style seating, as well as adjustable platforms that provide both banquet and cabaret table seating options. The Empire is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is operated by ATG North America as a self-sustaining performing arts facility and is home to a wide variety of programming including: intimate musical concerts, comedy attractions, children's theatre; and private uses including banquets, seminars, product launches and weddings.

Visit their website for more information.

Return to Top

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, San Antonio

Excerpted from the Tobin Center website

The mission of The Tobin Center is to provide a world-class venue that promotes a diverse range of cultural, educational, and artistic experiences that improve the quality of life in San Antonio.

An Incredibly Powerful Vision: We have needed this for a long time. A versatile, world-class performing arts facility for the nation's seventh-largest city. A center where our school children receive specialized education opportunities and exposure to extraordinary performances. A new magnet for downtown revitalization, located on the River Walk leading up to the new Museum Reach. And finally, a much-needed home where our resident performing arts groups can grow and thrive.

Situated along the banks of the River in the city's heart, the historic Municipal Auditorium, with its original facade preserved, has been transformed into a world-class venue. This theatrical icon is once again the pride of the River and a shining beacon of creativity, fine art and downtown development. There is no better place — anywhere — to see and hear a live performance.

The Tobin Center features a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose 1,746 seat (2,039 seat with flat-floor configuration) Performance Hall (both including balcony boxes in the count), a 232 seat (or 249, 266, 293 or 300 – depending on the number of additional rows added in front of the stage) Studio Theater, and an outdoor performance plaza connected to the River Walk with a permanent 32 FT video wall and water taxi portal.

The remarkable flexibility of the 1,746 seat H-E-B Performance Hall, with its distinctive "flat-floor" capability, opens the door for performances and events of almost any sort. The acoustics in the Hall can be "tuned" to fit the performance and the physical set-up of the hall, and the sound insulation throughout The Tobin Center also enables simultaneous use of the Performance Hall, the Studio Theater and the 600-seat River Walk Plaza.

Bexar County voters agreed overwhelmingly, approving $100 million in construction bonds in May, 2008. The City of San Antonio followed by contributing the Municipal Auditorium and adjacent Fire Department Headquarters building – valued altogether at $41 million.

The Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation – formed to own and operate the new facility – committed to raise $54 million from the private sector. The Tobin Endowment made a $15 million challenge grant, and that challenge has been met, with well over $39 million in private funds already committed.

Now audiences can see and hear performers and performances of every description at The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo Courtesy of Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

Return to Top

Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre, New Braunfels

Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre, New Braunfels, TX
Photo courtesy of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre

Excerpted from the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre website...

On the evening of January 6, 1942, just a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Brauntex Movie Theatre opened its doors as the "modern theatre in the beauty spot of Texas." The theatre initially shut down at the start of the war, but reopened to serve as a means for updates on America's involvement in the war through weekly news reels. On that opening night, however, projectionist Walter Braune sparked up the rectifiers in the projector to screen "BIRTH OF THE BLUES," starring Bing Crosby and Mary Martin for 30 cents admission. The Brauntex remained open for 56 years before it was expanded in 1972 when the balcony was sealed off and the Brauntex "Mini" was created upstairs. Florie Busch sold tickets, worked the concession stand and was interim manager during her 44 years of service. Sadly, the Brauntex Theatre could not compete with the new state of the art mega-plex/multi-screen theatres that were becoming the trend. The movie theatre steadily declined from its beauty and smartly dressed ushers to smoke-filled air, dirty and broken seats which resulted in a drastically diminished audience. The Brauntex Movie Theatre was destined for the wrecking ball.

In 1998, a group of concerned citizens recognized that the historic Brauntex Theatre could fulfill the need for a performing arts theatre for the growing community of New Braunfels. Several community leaders, including representatives of various arts groups, formed the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association, purchased the closed theatre on December 10, 1999 and were granted their 501 (c)3 non-profit status. The Association identified and targeted the community's cultural and educational needs, which then led the way for the Brauntex Theatre to rise up and meet the many challenges for success.

Money was raised, drawings were completed and work began. One of the first tasks was to enlarge the stage, followed by the restoration of the previously closed off balcony. The screen and walls were removed to provide the view of the stage from all areas of the theatre and dressing rooms were added behind the stage. The Box Office and larger lobby bathrooms were also added. The leaky roof was replaced and the auditorium ceiling, walls and lights were renovated. The Association had a great deal of local assistance in the demolition, cleanup and reconstruction. In 2008, the Texas Historical Commission awarded the Brauntex a spot in the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit their website for more information.

Return to Top

Paramount Theatre, Austin

Excerpted from the Paramount Theatre's website

Very few places in Austin can make this claim! With all of the new development happening around Austin, and specifically right here on Congress Avenue, it's truly remarkable that Austin's original performing arts venue has stood the test of time. As one of the first – and few remaining – examples of early and distinctive theatrical architecture, the Paramount stands as a testament to how important the venue is to the community and the cultural landscape that makes Austin unique. Once you're here, you can't help but feel you've entered a special place that wraps itself around you, making you feel welcome, timeless and inclusive, both with other members of the audience and the performance itself. From Houdini to Katharine Hepburn, to current artists like Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett and Sheryl Crow, the Paramount, and its audiences, have seen it all over the past 100 years…here's to the next century!

  • The Paramount hosts more than 200,000 audience members each year
  • Literally millions of patrons have seen a performance within these walls
  • The Paramount hosts 250+ performances a year
  • Over the years, it is estimated that as many as 10,000 artists have graced the Paramount stage
  • The Paramount screens 100+ films each year
  • The Paramount provides access to the performing arts to over 20,000 underserved youth each year
  • The theatre plays host to multiple film premieres each year and to some of Austin's most iconic festivals including SXSW, the Austin Film Festival and many more
  • The Paramount launched the Moontower Comedy Festival in 2012 and is one of the largest comedy festivals in the country

Opening as a vaudeville house in 1915, the Paramount Theatre soon changed with the times to become Austin's grand movie palace. The Paramount served film lovers as a first-run theatre for many years before the decline of downtown Austin. Since then, it has presented numerous world premieres independently and continues to do so in partnership with the Austin Film Society and festivals like South by Southwest and the Austin Film Festival. In addition to showcasing new films, the Paramount has also played host to the annual Summer Classic Film Series, which celebrated a milestone 40th season in 2015. With its historic architecture and devotion to 35mm and 70mm film exhibition, the Paramount remains the best venue in town for taking in a classic movie and recapturing the glorious atmosphere of cinema's golden age. The Paramount marquee has long been the most coveted spot in town for films both old and new.

Photo by Tim Babiak

Return to Top

State Theatre, Austin

Photo from the CinemaTreasures website.

Excerpted from the State Theatre website

Originally built in 1935 by Interstate Circuit Inc., the State Theater opened as a 997-seat "state-of-the art" movie house designed in the art deco style by architect W. Scott Dunne. It was the fourth of the Interstate Circuit's Austin Theatres (the Paramount Theatre, Queen Theatre and Capitol Theatre were the others). In the late 1990s, Live Oak Productions, a local community theatre company, obtained money from the city and private donations to convert the then closed movie house to a live performance space. At that time much of the interior ornamentation was removed along with the first floor, dropping in a stage at basement level. The upper balcony was converted to two small classrooms and the lower balcony became a production booth. Today the State Theatre is part of the Austin Theatre Alliance which also owns and manages the Paramount Theatre next door. The State is now commonly called Stateside at the Paramount and presents film as well as live shows with a seating capacity of 305.

Return to Top