Gilded age: Kings Theatre celebrates 90th birthday

Gilded age: After sitting empty for years, the Kings Theatre was restored to its former glory in 2015, and further renovations have expanded the space in time for its 90th birthday.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Long live the King!

The historic Kings Theatre in Flatbush has prepared for its 90th birthday this weekend with a series of new renovations designed to make the Jazz Age venue bigger and better.

The theater— which first opened as the Loews Theatre on Sept. 7, 1929 — recently added space to it 3,000-seat auditorium, reworking the orchestra pit so that it can accommodate 500 extra audience members, with an adaptive setup to allow room for standing or seating, said the theater’s director of marketing.

“We were looking for more flexibility in the way that we can use the space,” said Sarah Weiss. “We’re now able to have more diverse musical programming, where people want to be on their feet, and more ways that we can use the space.”

In addition to expanding the main theater, the venue has also found room in its expansive lobby for a new performance space: the newly opened Kings Comedy Lounge.

“It’s a great space in that we can continue to grow and provide a performance area for new, developing artists — especially if they’re from the neighborhood,” said Weiss. “It gives us the ability to showcase artists who are up-and-coming.”

Early-bird patrons and after-show stragglers can also visit the theater’s outdoor courtyard, which opened late last year, she added.

“We host vendors that set up carts and tents — and we try and focus on business that are in the neighborhood,” said Weiss.

The newly remodeled space is perfect for the upcoming class of A-listers visiting the theater in the coming months, said Weiss.

“I’m really excited for the Raconteurs, and Jenny Lewis,” she said. “We also have our ‘welcoming the authors’ events, with Malcolm Gladwell and Ta-Nehisi Coates — they’re showcasing their new works. It’s exciting to have them in conversation about their new releases.”

The changes are all part of an effort to make sure the 90-year-old theater remains up-to-date and relevant to the neighborhood.

“We have some really exciting things in the works,” said Weiss. “This year, we have a few more younger artists who are on their way up. It’s exciting to see that Kings is part of that scene.”

The theater fell into neglect during the late 20th century, but was restored in 2015 after a $95-million renovation.

See the renovations for yourself at the Kings Theatre “Happy Hour Tour” [1027 Flatbush Ave. between Tilden Avenue and Duryea Place in Flatbush, (800) 745–3000, www.kingstheatre.com]. Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. $30.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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