Let's Celebrate - Viva Victoria

Top Quote Victoria Theatre Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of its Renovation. End Quote
  • Dayton-Springfield, OH (1888PressRelease) November 12, 2010 - On Sunday, November 14, 2010 Victoria Theatre Association will host an open house/concert event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the grand re-opening of the Victoria Theatre in 1990 after renovation. The event is entitled Viva Victoria, echoing the gala re-opening celebration in 1990.

    "The Arts Center Foundation acquired the Victory in 1998 and a stunning $17.5 million dollar renovation was completed in one and a half years," comments Ken Neufeld, President and CEO of Victoria Theatre Association and the Arts Center Foundation. "A significant citizens group of key players helped bring about the transformation of the Victory to the Victoria - many of whom we hope to acknowledge in person at a FREE special event celebrating the renovation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 14."

    "I am particularly pleased that we will be signing over our archives to Wright State University," Neufeld continues. "This is a significant step towards making the history of the Theatre available to scholars and others in perpetuity. And it is particularly fitting that the archives are going to Wright State, given that one of the key people involved in the renovation of the Theatre was former Wright State President, and Arts Center Foundation and Victoria Theatre Association Trustee, the late Dr. Robert Kegerreis."

    Sponsored by the Kettering Health Network, B=Viva Victoria will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 14, 2010 and will take place in front of the building, in the lobby, and on stage of the Victoria Theatre at 138 N. Main Street.

    - The Victoria Theatre building has been on the National Historic register for some time, but a plaque stating that fact will be mounted on the fašade of the building and dedicated at 2 p.m. with words from Maribeth Graham, one of the community volunteers who was so instrumental in the fundraising to save the building from the wrecking ball back in 1975.

    - Victoria Theatre Association is donating its archives to the Wright State University archive and a deed signing will take place on stage before an audience at 2:45 p.m. Speakers will include Susan Kettering, whose family was crucial to the restoration and renovation of this theatre showplace. Select items from those archives will be on display in the Reception Room on the mezzanine level of the theatre throughout the event.

    - A concert on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ will begin at 3 p.m. in the theatre. The concert will feature acclaimed British organist Paul Roberts.

    - Following the performance, there will be refreshments available in the lobby and historic talks on the theatre from the longest-standing employee of the building, David Hastings, Senior House Manager.

    The community is invited to attend all aspects of Viva Victoria, which is free to the public. However, a ticket is required for admittance. Those interested should contact Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or order online at www.ticketcenterstage.com.

    Stay tuned for additional celebrations on the horizon: "2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the state-of-the-art Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center," remarks Neufeld. "And 2016 will be the 150th anniversary of a theatre glowing on the corner of First and Main Streets in downtown Dayton!"

    History of the Victoria Theatre
    The Victoria Theatre, the last remaining theatrical facility built specifically for live entertainment in Dayton, stands today as one of America's premier show houses. On January 1, 1866 it opened as the Turner Opera House and enjoyed three years of success before fire consumed the hall. The job of rebuilding took two years, and the next forty years were prosperous ones for the theatre. Some of America's most prestigious stars, including Edwin Forrest, Lillie Langtry, Harry Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt and Mark Twain, were featured in productions during this period. The theatre was renamed the Victoria Opera House in 1899.

    In 1913 raging floodwaters took their toll on the city and the theatre. However, both survived the disaster and were quickly rebuilt to host the nation's great symphonies and opera companies. Another fire ravaged the theatre in 1918, and again it was rebuilt and reopened in 1919 as the Victory Theatre and entered a period of successful ventures. Fred Bickel, who went on to national fame as Fredric March, was one of the many talented performers featured in Wright Players resident theatre company productions from 1927-1930. The Dayton Philharmonic was born at the Victory in the 1930s. In the 1940s the theatre enjoyed the film industry's boom period as a showcase for Warner Brothers Studios, with continued success in the 1950s as the Miami Valley headquarters for Disney films.

    By 1967 economic conditions downtown threatened the theatre's very existence and in 1972 it was marked for demolition. Through widespread community support, it gained a listing in the National Register of Historic Places and narrowly escaped the wrecking ball in 1975. The Victory Theatre Association was incorporated in 1976, and volunteers began restoration work. In 1977 the Dayton Ballet Company found a home at the Victory, and a new annual season of professional theatre was initiated. The Victory Theatre Association purchased the building in 1978, and much of the ornate plaster work was restored, new carpeting was installed and the roof replaced. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the Victory Theatre from the Victory Theatre Association and began a $17.5 million renovation project. A year and a half later, the project was completed and the theatre was renamed the Victoria.

    Biographical Profile on Organist Paul Roberts
    Paul Roberts was born in Warrington, Cheshire in England in 1960 and, in his formative years, studied the piano, classical organ and clarinet. While studying Economic History at Liverpool University, he successfully completed several music diplomas. His tutors have included Noel Rawsthorne (Cathedral and City Organist of Liverpool) and Arthur Hutchings (formerly Professor of Music at Durham University). Performing has never been a full-time occupation for Paul and he combines a hectic concert schedule with owning and running his thriving West Country Entertainments Agency, Wessex Entertainments. In 1994 he completed a decade as joint resident organist with Brian Sharp at Sandford Park in Dorset playing both pipe and electronic organs during their long summer season.

    For over twenty-five years Paul has been a consistently prominent name on the UK organ circuit, playing at virtually every organ society and pipe organ installation in the country. A regular broadcaster in the UK and in other parts of the world, Paul has also appeared on TV in the UK and the USA and has been a prolific writer for music journals. In more recent years, Paul's concert tours have taken him abroad to various parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, India, Thailand, Fiji, and South Africa. In February 2005, Paul was the first British organist to play a solo concert in Radio City Music Hall, the largest indoor theatre in the world. In January 2010 he returned to the USA for his twenty-sixth tour. Paul Roberts has many recordings and videos to his credit. His tuition videos continue to sell in their thousands through retail outlets in the UK, Europe, USA and the Antipodes.

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