Shapiro’s Capitol Theatre Opening Speech
Welcome to The Capitol Theatre!
It’s been a long strange trip and for me it began at a Grateful Dead show at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on March 11, 1993. Everyone laughs when they hear that, but it’s a true story, the details of which are probably best saved for a more… intimate environment. (Although it was “The Ken Nordine Show” if anyone wants to look it up.)
My experience that night led me to the front door of a great, dingy, beautiful rock club in Lower Manhattan called Wetlands and that was where I learned everything I know about putting on shows.
Because Wetlands probably had the WORST SIGHTLINES of any rock venue ever, we had to work harder to create an environment where music fans would still love going to shows, even if sometimes they literally couldn’t see the show.
And that actually turned out to be the magic of Wetlands. Because you couldn’t always see what was going onstage, you were forced to spend time with your friends at the bar or in the basement.
Our goal here at The Cap is to combine the beauty and acoustics of this one-of-a-kind theater with the warm and friendly environment of Wetlands.
So, we feel Wetlands’ influence tonight and I want to thank Wetlands’ founder, Larry Bloch, who in 1996 basically gave Wetlands to a 23 year old just out of college who not only had zero experience running a music venue—I had never worked in a music venue before and that was probably because I had never had a full-time job before. Larry had faith in me and for that I will always be grateful.
But, tonight is about a room with great sightlines. A room with no bowling lanes. A room that has as good a pedigree as any venue standing, not just in America, but on the whole planet: The Stones, Floyd, Janis, Clapton, Bowie, Santana, Ozzy, B.B, Iggy and, of course, the Dead.
Someone said it well in 1970 when they said:
“There are only two theaters, man, there are only two places that are set up groovy for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting, and all that….the Fillmore East and The Capitol Theatre.”
That was Jerry Garcia.
So, we give a huge shout out tonight to Thomas Lamb, who built this theater in 1926, as well as over 100 of America’s most important and most beautiful theaters—all with no email, no phone, no PDFs. A historic and truly unprecedented achievement that boggles the mind. We have added the most advanced technology available today in order to AUGMENT and lift the beauty that was already here; to add a new dimension to Lamb’s original vision.
Money alone doesn’t enable a renovation like this, it must be fueled by PASSION. A wise man once said you get a DISEASE when working in a Theater like this and, many of us working on this theater got that disease. And we got it from Marvin Ravikoff, who took over this theater 30 years ago and put everything he had into it. And for that we say “Thank You, Marvin.” He’s here tonight, along with his wife Norma, son Howie and Bruno Gioffree, his wise and sage counsel.
Stefanie Lacof, thank you for introducing me to Marvin. That was a big moment.
There is NOTHING more important to a project like this than having a GREAT lawyer. We were very fortunate to have one of the best, Anthony Tirone, someone who knew and had the respect of not just of every local official but seemingly of every single person who lives in Port Chester. Without him, we probably would not be open tonight.
We worked closely with many local officials to make this moment happen. And my faith in government was renewed by our experience.
In particular we thank Mayor Dennis Pilla and Joe Carvin, Supervisor of the Town of Rye, Village Manager Chris Steers, Peter Meiley of Dept of Bldgs, and the Port Chester Fire Department, Police Department and Board of Trustees)
The in-house team here is A-list. It’s as good as any venue has anywhere and I want to say thank you to: Tom, Jon, Scott, Maile, Meghan, Sam, Chris, RJ, Ragan, Paul, Tristam, Hans, Brett, Ken, Mike squared, Linda, Robin, Russell, Valerie, Lars, Elliot, David, Marc, Deitrich, Catherine, Tommy, Saira, Jimmy, Elliot, Diego, Darren, Heather, Healy, Larry, Dale, Brad, Ian, Charley and Daniel. And to all of the local electricians, plumbers, painters, riggers, engineers, carpenters and artists. Hundreds of people put their souls into this room.
I want to thank them and their FAMILIES (and especially my family), for dealing with a loved one who caught the The Capitol Theatre Disease and became obsessed with this one-of-a-kind building.
Finally, all this is nice but its nothing without music. So, thank you to our booking partner Anthony Makes and The Bowery Presents. I wouldn’t book the room any other way.
If we could pick ANY musician to re-open the Cap we got THE ONE.
He was the first to plug in at Newport and since we hope that this room will set a new bar for live music venues, we are thrilled to have Bob Dylan be the first to plug back in at The Cap.
We’ll see you in a few…
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