The show must go on — for over a centuryFor more than a century, the Sheldon Theatre has been at the heart of Red Wing's entertainment scene.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
For more than a century, the Sheldon Theatre has been at the heart of Red Wing's entertainment scene.
Located in the center of downtown at 433 W. Third St., the theater was dubbed a "jewel box" when it was built in 1904.
Named after the Red Wing man who financed it by leaving $83,000 to the city when he died in 1900, it was built with inlaid Italian tile floor, marble-covered pillars in the lobby and textured glass windows facing the theater's interior — all features that still can be found at the Sheldon.
A fire gutted the building in February 1918. Rather than tear the building down, the board of directors rebuilt and reopened seven months later. Its remodeled interior included four cut glass chandeliers from Austria, which are in use today.
The Sheldon Theatre became a movie house in 1936. In 1986, a $3.5 million effort to restore the theater and bring back live performances got under way. A January 1987 fire set the project back six months and added $500,000 to the cost of restoring the glittering, elegant interior.
The Sheldon looks stately and restrained on the outside, with its gray pressed brick and trim of cut stone, terra cotta and stamped tin.
But on the inside the murals and plaster carvings, velvet and marble and jewel box lights make it a welcoming place. Add the wide variety of live entertainment that is performed on its stage year-round, and the Sheldon ranks as a popular destination for residents and visitors alike.
Among the special features is a Kilgen theater organ that originally was used to accompany silent films. Restored now, it is used for special programs that are enhanced by all the sounds it makes — from whistles and locomotives to the surf, birds and sleigh bells.
Today, the Sheldon Theatre seats 466 people. Artists often exhibit paintings or photographs on the second-floor mezzanine. The third floor houses a small theater and the light and sound booth.
The 2009-2010 season, which runs from September through May, includes a wide variety of acts, from music and theater to dance, comedy and films. Among headliners this year will be folk icon Judy Collins, recording artist George Winston and pianist Lorie Line.
In addition to the finest regional and national entertainers, local talent is seen on stage regularly, including the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band, the Red Wing Singers and local children. The Sheldon also is home to the Phoenix Theatre, a community theater troupe.
For more information, call (651) 388-8700 or (800) 899-5759 or go to the Web site, www.sheldontheatre.org. Information also is posted on the kiosk on the corner of East Avenue.
@FYI subs:Soapbox Players
@Normal: The newest addition to the theater scene in Red Wing is Soapbox Players, a troupe of local actors interested in performing creative, intimate shows that aren't likely to be seen at other local venues.
Their mission: "To offer sometimes juicy, always thought-provoking, financially accommodating, old and new works of live theater that keep you on the edge of your seat and in the front of your mind."
Soapbox Players' home stage is the Music Loft at Hobgoblin Music, a big gray barn on Highway 19 just off Highway 61 in rural Red Wing.