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The Capitol Theatre Through the Years (An Audio Gallery)
In celebration of The Capitol Theatre’s reopening on Tuesday, we’ve assembled a collection of audio plucked from the venue’s storied past. Over the past weeks, we’ve sorted through countless bootlegs recorded at the venue over the years. While there are many to choose from, here are some of the most memorable moments that took place at The Cap during its hey-day right up until its early-90s reopening.
But first, a bit about The Cap’s history…
The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY—affectionately known as The Cap—first opened its doors to the public on August 18, 1926. Designed by noted architect Thomas Lamb, the venue first opened as a luxurious movie theatre, hosting classic films such as “Casablanca,” “Gone With The Wind” and “The Taming of The Shrew” for as little as 5 cents.
By the late 1960s, The Cap was renovated as a psychedelic performance space and began hosting rock concerts under the direction of promoter Howard Stein. Throughout the early 70s, the venue held performances by legendary performers including the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Derek and the Dominos, Traffic, Pink Floyd, Santana and many more. However, by 1976 the theatre was shut down due to a new village ordinance that prohibited live entertainment after 1 AM. Over the years that followed, The Capitol Theatre decayed and became a mere landmark of the grandiose theatre that once lived there.
The next phase of The Cap’s history began in 1983 when local developer Marvin Ravikoff began work on a new round of renovations. The theatre opened its doors once again in 1984, hosting mostly plays and musicals until the early 90s, when a series of rock acts like Phish and Blues Traveler briefly returned the venue to the spirit of its former self. However, the Cap struggled to thrive due to the poor economy at the time, and in 1997 became a facility for conventions, seminars, weddings and formal events.
The Cap remained this way until December 2011, when Relix Publisher/Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro announced that the venue would be re-opening with himself at the helm. Shortly after, Shapiro and his team began work on a third round of serious renovations to transform the venue, once again, into a “psychedelic rock palace.” Shapiro says he plans to breathe new life into the historical theatre—with state-of-the-art light, sound and video systems and more.