Ever wonder what it would be like to stand on an empty stage and pretend for a moment that you’re a famous entertainer about to thrill an audience? Want to know what it feels like to peer into a 1,300-seat auditorium, even if the packed house is just imaginary? You can do it by taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Historic Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon’s capital city. Not only can you stand in the spotlight, but you’ll also discover the stage’s trap door, see the remodeled dressing rooms, and many other areas not generally open to the public.
From the moment you enter the Elsinore’s lobby, you’ll be impressed: arches rise two and a half stories to a vaulted ceiling painted and lighted to suggest a starry sky. Two grand double staircases are located at either end of the lobby and lead to the first and second balcony sections of the auditorium. Faux stonework, superb custom woodwork, and artistic metal work grace the staircases and wall sconces. Everything about the Elsinore Theatre feels grand!
Named for a castle in a Shakespearean play, the Elsinore was originally built in 1926. The architecture is based on the historic Elsinore Castle in Denmark, believed to be the setting of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Several extensive restoration “acts” have taken place at the Elsinore in recent years, and the results of this “Return to Grandeur” process are exquisite—from the refurbished stained glass windows and murals of Romeo and Juliet, to new carpeting, updated wiring, lighting, and sound systems.
The Elsinore is also special because it’s the last remaining Tudor Gothic theatre in North America. Perhaps its greatest interior treasure is its “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ (there’s only about 60 Wurlitzer theatre organs in the nation). The Elsinor’s Wurlitzer was donated by father and son Clayton and Rick Parks (Rick also doubles as the tour guide and House Manager). Thanks to $60,000 in grant money, the organ has been completely restored. If you haven’t heard a Wurlitzer, you’re in for a treat because talented Rick is only too happy to show off the instrument’s capabilities.
Designed for both Vaudeville performances and motion pictures, the Elsinore in its early days was a center for drama and music in Salem. In the early 1930s, the theatre was equipped for sound to accommodate “talkies” (movies with sound tracks). Stage shows were eventually replaced by movies and the Elsinore Theatre moved into a period of being a premier, first-run movie house. Today, the theatre is a popular venue for world-class entertainers, classic movies, local talent, stage shows, and much more. Visit the Elsinore and experience its “nearly perfect acoustics” during a performance, and also double the WOW factor with a behind-the-scenes tour.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
170 High St SE
Salem, Oregon 97301
No set schedule for tours. Simply phone Rick to arrange for a time and date. At press time, cost is $3.00 per person.
FOR MORE TO SEE & DO IN SALEM:
181 High St.
Salem, OR 97301
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com