The 1,400-seat Carolina Theatre opened as the Durham Auditorium in 1926 with a local stage show, The Kiwanis Jollies and accommodated public functions and silent films along with Vaudeville acts and touring theatrical companies. Will Rogers was the first star to appear at the theater along with luminaries including Katherine Hepburn and Lillian Gish. Later, the Carolina Theatre became a movie house for the talkies and continued to show films for decades.
When commercial operation of the theater ended in 1977, a group of community volunteers saved the Carolina from demolition by reopening it as movie house showing “art films,” formed the non-profit Carolina Cinema Corporation and ran the theater for the next 10 years, showing films as well as hosting chamber music, dramatic functions and social gatherings. The theater closed for renovations in 1987, and a fully restored cinema wing opened in 1993, with the Carolina Theatre and its newly named Fletcher Hall reopening in 1994.
The Carolina Theatre’s fall season includes appearances by Marc Cohn with special guest Rebecca Pidgeon, Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m., Delta Rae, Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m., and The Intergalactic Nemesis, Book One: Target Earth, a live-action graphic novel, Saturday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. For details on these and other productions, visit www.carolinatheatre.org.
The Performing Arts in North Carolina website is your guide to music, dance and theater artists and organizations across our state. Learn more by visiting www.ncartstrails.org/performingarts.