Theatre On The Square was originally a stately meeting hall on the second floor of this uniquely styled, Mediterranean-Gothic building. Built in 1924 by architect Anthony Heinsberger, whose glorious theatrical architecture can also be seen at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland and at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, the entire building, including the theatre, was the home of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The Elks occupied all of the premise untile 1981, when they leased out most of the building to a hotel, shops, and to Jonathan Reisis and his partner at the time, Joseph Perrotti, who conceived the idea of restructuring the flat floored assembly hall into a viable theatre. Working with architect Gene Angell, who designed theatres for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the California Shakespeare Festival, Reinis extended the stage space to its present 40 by 32 feet, built a solid, raked floor for audience seats, installed new lighting, projection and sound systems and restored the handsome tiles, rich wood-enameled paneling and guilded frescos and light fixtures, making the space into an elegant and intimate 750 seat theatre.
Opening in June of 1982 with the Tony nominated and Pulitzer Prize winning Talley's Folley by Landford Wilson, Theatre On The Square has presented over 60 productions including some of Broadway's finest Tony award winners: Torch Song Trilogy, by Harvey Fierstein, Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues, Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine and I'm Not Rappaport with Ben Vereen and Nehemiah Persoff. Milo O'Shea and Shawn Cassidy starred here in the Tony nominated Mass Appeal, and Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony nominated Piano Lesson by August Wilson ran here prior to its national tour. Ken Hill's Phantom of the Opera ran at Theatre On The Square for one year prior to launching its four year national and international tour. Other long running productions have been the musical revue Cole (one year), the Argentinean dance and music spectacular, Forever Tango, which ran for two years and returned twice, and Steve Martin's award winning comedy Picasso At The Lapin Agile (one year). A.R. Gurney's Love Letters played here with such stars as John Rubinstein & Stockard Channing, Robert Vaughn & Polly Bergen, Steve Allen & Jayne Meadows, John Forsyth & Barbara Rush, Christopher Reeves & Julie Hagerty and Matthew Broderick & Helen Hunt. Theatre On The Square was the home site of ACT for one year during their renovation, as well as the site for the HBO filmings of The Kathy and Mo Show with Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney.
Over the years Theatre On The Square has presented such notable headliners as actor Mickey Rooney, drummer Bobby Short, Peruvian chanteuse Yma Sumac, folk singer Glen Yarborough, storyteller Garrison Keillor, and, during his first Presidential primary, then-candidate Bill Clinton spoke in conversation with political journalist Christopher Matthews from the stage of Theatre On The Square.
The Washington-based political satire group Capitol Steps brought their lampoonery to Theatre On The Square, where they presented entirely new material written just for The City. Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, ran for six months and was named the #1 Play of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.
Known for its reputation of presenting some of the country's finest theatrical productions, Theatre On The Square has a history of being the premiere venue for launching new and successful works including Rick Reynold's bitter-sweet monologue Only The Truth is Funny, the ballet company of Tony award winner Michael Smuin, Smuin Ballets/SF Dances With Songs, Freak, the uniquely funny and dangerously revealing one-man show of John Leguizamo, the National Tour of Steve Martin's Picasso At The Lapin Agile and Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, now the toast of New York.
Visit the official Theatre On The Square Website