Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Plaza Theatre

On Wednesday I went to see a concert at the Plaza Theatre. Finally, I got to see this theatre I have been hearing so much about. It really is amazing. It’s the most elegant concert venue I’ve ever been to. A neon sign beckons you in from the streets of Downtown El Paso. Inside, the theatre looks brand new yet it still feels like you have stepped back in time. In 2006 the final touches were made to restore the theatre to its original 1930s Southwest-style décor, and the restorers did an excellent job. The brown diamond-shaped tiles in the entryway are the perfect color and pattern. The walls are brown plaster and adorned with paintings and photos of El Paso notables. The lobby is impressive with its plush carpeting, lovely staircase, frescoed ceiling, and beautiful chandelier. Dim lighting lends an air of anticipation. Even the restrooms have an old-fashioned elegance with marble stall doors and silver soap dispensers.

Inside the actual theater, the décor makes you feels like you are in a courtyard of a Spanish-style house. Fake windows and rooftops appear on either side of the rows of plush red velvet seats. A sky with clouds is projected onto the ceiling. When the lights go out, the ceiling is lit up to look like a night sky full of stars. The stage itself is framed by ornately carved columns. A place like this makes me think about what it must have been like in the ‘30s and ‘40s when going to the movies was a special event complete with organ music. The stage seems smallish for a concert but it’s enormous in comparison to most movie theater screens.

I’ve never been to a concert where the venue itself makes you feel like you’re about to see something really exciting. Most concert venues I’ve been to are boring, modern, and industrial, but this theater is classy, charming, and beautiful. In my opinion, this is the place to see an event in El Paso. At the end of the night I didn’t want to leave.

The Plaza Theatre website has information on the interesting history of the theatre. There’s also a really cool virtual tour where you can actually “look” inside the theatre. Worth checking out.

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