Savannah's Historic Theaters
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Savannah, Georgia is most notably known for its beautiful surroundings, coastal dining and historic homes. Still, for those who thrive on the energy of live shows, musicals and comedy performances, Savannah is home to a variety of landmark entertainment venues that offer memorable experiences.
From intimate venues to large performance spaces, those who love the arts, will love all these historic theaters across Savannah.
A true gem overlooking Forrest Gump’s Chippewa Square lies the historic Savannah Theatre. Boasting the title of “America’s oldest continuously-operating theatre on its original site,” the Savannah Theatre has been hosting performances since 1818. In 200 years, the Savannah Theatre has been one of Savannah’s most iconic live entertainment venues. Past performers include Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields, American Idol winners and Broadway Stars.
Besides the wildly popular entertainment line-up that is showcased year-round, theatre attendees will marvel at the Art Deco-style, grand signature marquee and the convenient location in Savannah’s Historic Landmark District. This 525-seat theatre offers both floor and balcony seating, and features high-energy variety shows, fan-favorites like Grease, Momma Mia and Piano Man with the ever-popular, A Christmas Tradition.
For those looking to take a walk on the wild side, the Historic Savannah Theatre offers paranormal investigation experiences. At 10:30 p.m., ghost hunter enthusiasts can gear up with thermal cameras, night vision, EMF detectors, and more to see if they are lucky enough to encounter past performers or visitors.
Listen here for our podcast interview with Savannah Theatre owners Matt and Michelle Meece, for a first-hand account of what renovating the theatre has been like, some of their favorite theatre stories and even more on this Savannah historic theatre.
Leopold's Ice Cream.
If you’ve stood in line at Savannah’s famous Leopold’s Ice Cream, you’ve taken a photo of this instantly recognizable, nostalgic marquee along Broughton Street. Opened in 1946, the Trustees Theater of Savannah was considered an engineering marvel. With three-quarters of a mile of cathode tubing, this venue lured moviegoers to Savannah’s first air-conditioned theater, complete with state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment.
SCAD eventually purchased the building 50 years later and moved to preserve and restore the 16,240 square-foot space. Now, the Trustees Theater is home to the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, fashion runway shows, concerts, lectures, conferences and more.
So, if you’re looking for unique experiences, look no further than this 1,100-seat venue the next time you’re in Savannah. To mark the occasion, don’t forget to grab an Instagram-worthy photo underneath the marquee!
Lucas Theatre. Photo Courtesy of SCAD.
Lucas Theatre for the Arts
Staying within the prominent SCAD family is the Lucas Theatre for the Arts, located just around the corner from the Trustee’s Theatre in downtown Savannah. Named after Arthur Melville Lucas Jr., the construction of the Lucas Theatre was part of a more significant initiative to develop theaters across The South. In 1921, the theatre opened its doors as the most extravagantly designed movie theater in the city. A few years later, it would become the first public building in Savannah with an air-conditioning unit.
In 1976, the building owners petitioned to demolish the building after it fell into disrepair. The Historic Savannah Foundation denied the request and made efforts to restore the building. After several years and an intensive restoration process, the Lucas Theatre for the Arts reopened its doors in 2000, almost 88 years to the day of the theater’s original premiere.
Tybee Post Theater
Make your way to Tybee Island, Savannah’s Beach for a fun evening of entertainment at the historic Tybee Post Theater. Serving as the sole entertainment venue on Tybee Island, this theater puts on a variety of concerts, shows, performances and movie screenings throughout the year.
Originally named the Fort Screven Theater, this venue was built in the 1930s and served as a movie house for the U.S. Army soldiers and their families stationed on Tybee Island. It was one of the very first theaters in Georgia to show “talkies” – the earliest feature-length movies with recorded sounds.
At the end of World War II, the military base was sold to the city of Savannah and the destination was renamed Tybee Island. The theater sat empty until the owners of the Lucas Theatre purchased it. They managed the building until the mid-1960s before going dark for almost 30 years.
Towards the millennium, the theater was saved by the Tybee Island Historical Society and reopened its doors in 2015 after extensive renovations and restorations. The Tybee Post Theater is an experience not to be missed for anyone exploring Tybee Island, Savannah’s beach.
Savannah Civic Center
Johnny Mercer Theatre
Nestled inside the Savannah Civic Center walls, the Johnny Mercer Theatre is one of Savannah’s largest performing arts venues with seating for 2,524 and boasts one of the largest prosceniums in the Southeast. Aptly named for Savannah’s musical pride-and-joy, Johnny Mercer, this theater is host to musicals, plays, concerts and some of the largest touring Broadway Productions to come through Georgia.
Due to the high-quality line-up of shows, it’s not uncommon for tickets to sell out quickly. Next time you’re visiting Savannah, check out their upcoming events for an evening you won’t soon forget!
Savannah is home to a variety of historic, unparalleled theaters that boast a variety of entertainment experiences to fit every genre, performance and preference to the city’s visitors. The next time you visit Savannah, be sure to catch a show at one of these iconic theaters. You’ll be glad you did!