New Hampshire - Music and Performing Arts


The Music Hall (Portsmouth)
The Music Hall is a designated National Historic Landmark and an "American Treasure." This 1903 theater is undergoing a restoration that has already discovered hidden gems including hand-painted murals and a gilded proscenium arch. The Music Hall hosts live music, dance, theatre, concerts, children's events, community events and film, including its annual "Telluride by the Sea" film festival.

The Palace Theatre (Manchester)
The Palace Theatre received a Historic Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2006. In June of 1914, with the help of general contractor Henry Macropol and architect Leon Lempert & Son, construction began on an impressive and grand theatre. Fashioned after its namesake in New York City, the Palace Theatre was (and still remains) remarkably similar to its larger cousin. Completed in less than a year, the theatre boasted superb construction, a stunning décor and an interior that was cooled by fans blowing air over great blocks of ice under the stage. The Palace was considered the only first-class theatre in New Hampshire that was fireproof and "air-conditioned."

On April 9, 1915, the Palace Theatre celebrated its opening night with great fanfare. From 1915 until 1930 the Palace Theatre was in its prime. Touring vaudeville companies regularly stopped at the Palace, where performers such as Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Harry Houdini, the Marx Brothers and Red Skelton entertained audiences. In addition, stock companies presented up to 12 performances a week.

The Palace adapted and became primarily a movie house from 1930 until the early 1960s. It appeared that the Palace's theatrical days were over, but in 1974 the Palace was given a second chance to shine. Prominent Manchester lawyer John McLane and Mayor Sylvio S. Dupuis spearheaded a campaign to restore the Palace to its original glory. With financial assistance from the Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, the Palace was awarded an opportunity to again become a cultural fixture in the city. Structural and aesthetic renovations were made, new orchestra seating was installed and on November 2, 1974, the Palace Theatre once again celebrated opening night.

The Colonial Theater (Keene)
This theater is listed on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places and is a venue for films, ballet, plays and concerts ranging in style from classical to acoustic rock.

The Scenic Theatre (Pittsfield)
The Scenic Theatre is home to the Pittsfield Players. The current building that houses the Scenic Theatre was built in 1914. The original structure, which burned the same year, was the home of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic, Civil War Veterans), and thus much of the memorabilia and history of Pittsfield's participation in the Civil War was lost. The structure the G.A.R. rebuilt was what the Pittsfield Historical Association describes as "Colonial Revival Style" and was the first commercial building to have a slanted floor for the watching of the new motion pictures. When the membership and number of surviving Civil War veterans declined, the building was sold in 1925 to the American Legion, thus housing on it's upper floors patriotic organizations for about another decade. About this same time, the lower floor was named "The Liberty Theatre" and continued to show movies. It was in 1937 that the building was again sold and renamed "The Scenic Theatre"; movies were shown here until 1991. It became home to the Players, founded in 1968, in 1991.

Additional Performance Venues

  • Capitol Center for the Arts, Concord
  • Verizon Center, Manchester
  • Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, Gilford
  • Hampton Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach
  • Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover
  • The Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond at Keene State College, Keene
  • Leddy Center for the Performing Arts, Epping

Theatre Companies

  • Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Portsmouth
  • Pontine Theatre, Portsmouth
  • The Player's Ring, Portsmouth
  • New Hampshire Theatre Project
  • Actors' Circle Theatre, Peterborough
  • Peterborough Players, Peterborough (James Whittemore appears annually in a production)
  • The Majestic Theatre in Manchester

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