Local Current Blog

Photos: Palace Theatre opens its doors for a ‘sneak peek’

Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR

“I think seats at Mickey’s Diner around 1 a.m. are going to hard to come by,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman from the stage of the Palace Theatre this afternoon, expressing his belief that the newly-reopened venue will add a spark to the Capital City’s nightlife. The Palace opening caps a “Year of Music” in the city, although ticketed shows won’t begin until next year.

Coleman ceremonially unlocked the 2,800-seat venue’s door at 11:30 a.m., welcoming dozens of curious members of the public into the Palace for the first time in decades. Jeremy Messersmith made a surprise appearance, playing a solo acoustic set before Coleman took the stage to thank his arts and culture director Joe Spencer as well as the construction crews who carried out the $15.6 million renovation. The venue will be managed by First Avenue and Jam Productions.

Hundreds eventually made their way through the theater, gawking up at the high walls and ceiling. The ornate detailing in the theater — originally built exactly 100 years ago — has been left deliberately unpainted. Though a special finish will preserve the molding, its visibly aged look conveys a sense of the theater’s history. In a high-tech touch, variable-hue LED lights have been installed throughout the venue; as Messersmith performed, the lights shone in Christmas colors and then pulsed in a rainbow as the singer-songwriter wrapped up his set.

The venue’s main floor will have standing room in multiple tiers, with a large bar at the back; the balcony audience will be seated. Though the renovation is substantially complete, much remains to be done before the 7th Place theater opens for ticketed events: acoustic treatments will be added, and the full sound system has yet to be installed. Large expanses of white wall space on either side of the towering proscenium arch may host digitally-mapped projections.

So far, only one show has been announced for the Palace: Regina Spektor on March 26. Hear Mayor Coleman’s welcoming remarks and see a walkthrough on our Facebook page. The Current has been recording sessions in the venue as it’s under construction. See performances by Jeremy Messersmith, deM atlaSSarah White, and Heiruspecs.