New Theater Plan at Holyoke

by Laurel | January 25th, 2012

23 January 1910

Hope it May Be Carried Out

The City’s Need of a First Class Playhouse

Rumors of a new theater have again stirred up a discussion of the Holyoke theatrical situation and although it was felt that the story of a new theater was too good to be true, yet it seems probably that eventually something will be done to relieve the present theatrical condition which is wholly unsatisfactory to the lovers of good plays. The fact that the erection of a theater would be something of a doubtful proposition cannot be gainsaid, largely, it is believed, owing to the present control of bookings by the theatrical trust which practically makes it impossible for a local house to be independent. Whether enough books of the right sort could be secured from the independent agencies is a question which would have to be carefully studied before the project of a new house is put under way. The only hope which Holyoke has along an improved theatrical condition lies in either the purchase of the Holyoke Opera House from D. O. Gilmore of Springfield or in the erection of a new house. The Empire Theater has put on some excellent burlesques the present season and in one or two instances has abandoned the melodrama usually booked for the first have of the week and has put on an excellent attraction in place. Whether this would prove financially profitable to Manager Murray in the long run is debatable, the comparatively small seating capacity of the house with the larger expense of first-class shows would render it doubtful if it would prove a paying proposition. Aside from the Empire the Holyoke theatrical diet has consisted of cheap vaudeville and moving pictures, the programs presented, while without doubt being well worth the small admission charges, yet are not satisfactory to the theater lovers of the city. The folly of expecting any radical improvement in present condition can easily be seen if the history of affairs is gone over for the past four or five years. At the time Manager Lawler had charge of the house there seemed a chance that matters might pick up and that the city would see a few really first class companies, and, although the opera house finances had run behind at the start, there seemed a prospect that the coming season would make up the loss; the result of the matter was that the lease was not renewed and whether the Holyoke people had the right idea or not the failure of the plans was laid at the door of the theatrical trust who, it was believed in the Paper City, had brought pressure to bear on Mr. Gilmore so that he refused the lease, to the great joy of the syndicate and to the general wrath of the Holyoke residents.

A review of the treatment accorded Holyoke in the matter of plays, with the treatment given Springfield and other cities does not show that Holyoke received very many first class attractions and that under the arrangements if the Holyoke resident wished to see first-class attractions he should go to Mr. Gilmore’s Court Square theater or Northampton. For this state of affairs Mr. Gilmore or any other business man could not be blamed for it would be, evidently for their interest to let the Holyoke matters run behind if delegations could be drawn to their own places. This, however, does not cause much faith to be placed in the management of the Holyoke theater by theater owners in Springfield, and it is evident that not much faith can be placed in any great betterment of conditions, with the control of local theaters in outside hands. It also goes against the grain to erect a theater and practically hand it over to the theatrical syndicate, for there does not seem to be much of a chance of betterment along that line. Even if first-class plays cannot be secured there would be an improvement in present conditions if a house showing first-class vaudeville along the line of Poli’s in Springfield could be secured. It is believed that a house showing first-class plays would be supported in the city, at any rate it is hoped that a trial will be made of the matter in the near future. It is to be hoped that if any guarantee fund is to be raised that it will not be promised to Springfield parties but will be raised to induce some Holyoke citizen to erect a suitable house for in that matter the good of the city would be secured to a far greater measure.

From The Springfield Republican.

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