The Roxy theatre of Northampton PA was first opened in 1921 as the the Lyric Theatre, specializing in vaudeville and live acts. If you can tear your gaze away from the opulent sign you can still see the Lyric name carved into the stone above the entrance. (If you missed my first post on the Roxy Theatre, click here to catch yourself up!
In 1933 it was completely renovated to reflect the popular Art Deco style of the times. during this renovation the theatre was redesigned to be more of a motion picture house, but live attractions are still presented to this day. In the 1950's singers like Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell and Fabian appeared on the Roxy stage and in the 1970's Billy Joel made his first headlining appearance at the Roxy.
(This is from a great pair of collages in the lobby featuring photos of many of the stars that have played here, like John Belushi, Blood Sweat & Tears, Martin Mull, Gilda Radner and even Kiss!)
Regular Retro Roadmap Readers will know the standard story of the advent of TV killing off many of the beautiful theatres we so cherish now, but I'm happy to report that while the 1960's weren't very kind to The Roxy, it never closed its doors for good.
Current owner Richard Wolfe has been behind the wheel at the Roxy since 1970, and as my luck would have it he was the kind and dapper gentleman who directed me to the Ladies, and was able to chat for a few minutes as well as take me on a quick behind the scenes tour. Richard takes great pride in his theatre, and we all benefit from it. From the lighted marquee (burned out bulbs replaced quickly) to new carpet, new seats with drink holders (to be installed soon) to the working Wurlitzer theatre organ, this place is one anyone would be proud to show off.
After speaking with Richard I made my way to my seat in the auditorium, popcorn in hand, and watched the movie (but you all know I was really there for the theater!) As I made my way out I chatted some more with Richard, who informed me that the Roxy had made its big screen debut in the movie School Ties, which you may remember was the screen debut of Dana's Luncheonette in Lowell MA as reported here on RetroRoadmap.
The crazy thing about the magic of movies is that the scene right after this one with the Roxy, is the scene with Dana's in it. So while in the movie they're just down the street from each other, those of us in the know, know they're really states apart!
Speaking of streets, I had to cross the street to show you all what a beautiful sight the Roxy is, even when leaving for the evening. It was hard to pull my eyes away from the flashing sign in the inky darkness. And you can see Richard, dressed in his weekend attire, coming out to assist a patron and bid me farewell.
So it was with that glowing sign shining in my eyes and a thrill in my heart for discovering such a place, that I headed home in the night, glad to know that this bastion of vintage film going was just a bit over an hour away from me. Speaking of which, I've got to see what's coming up on their schedule, to plan a follow-up visit!