by Jeff Niesel
Shuttered since 1985, the Capitol Theatre (1390 W 65th St., 216.651.3010, clevelandcinemas.com) is set to re-open next week after a multi-million dollar facelift. Originally opened in 1921 as a vaudeville and silent film house, the theater became the property of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, which has been applying for grants and working with Cleveland Cinemas owner John Forman to restore the place to its former glory. The venue was in such bad shape, plaster from the disintegrating ceiling covered the theater chairs, requiring that they all be replaced. Much of the original woodwork and plaster pilasters were retained, though the theater was reconfigured so that it will now feature a main auditorium and two smaller rooms upstairs. “You can see all the original moldings and where the original doors were; they’ve done as much as they can to keep what was here and not just strip it down and replace it,” says Cleveland Cinemas marketing director Dave Huffman while providing a brief tour of the still-under-construction facility. “In the framing, there are chunks missing and they didn’t try to make it look all pretty and brand new; the steps are original marble and the stairwells are the original steel structure.” The main auditorium will feature a digital 3-D screen, and the other two screens will use digital technology, too. Coinciding with the completion of a Detroit Shoreway streetscaping project that’s all part of developing the Gordon Square Arts Distirct, the theater opens with a private gala event on Thursday, Oct. 1 and then will feature a free ribbon cutting event with Mayor Frank Jackson at 9 a..m. Friday, Oct. 2 and a $35 ticket opening night party from 9-11 p.m. that same day. The LeBron James documentary More than A Game, Michael Moore’s expose Capitalism: A Love Story and the Toy Story 3-D reissues are all slated to open on Friday, Oct. 2 with special screenings taking place throughout the first week of business. Assuming the theater is a success, there are tentative plans to add another three screens and a 250-car parking structure, but that’s going to require another $12 million dollars and though the Shoreway Commnity Development Organization has applied for stimulus money, director Jeffrey M. Ramsey was doubtful their request for funds would be approved.