Maybe you’ve already been to the movies at the remodeled-into-a-fourplex Admiral Theater. Even if you haven’t, it’s finally time to officially celebrate the reinvention of West Seattle’s only moviehouse. Just announced by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
Just two years shy of 100 years old, the Historic Admiral Theater will celebrate its recent $1.7 million renovation with a unique evening saluting four key periods in the history of the art-deco, nautical-themed moviehouse.
The event on the evening of Wednesday, March 22, is called “The Ship Sails Again: Four Screens, Four Eras.” Launching the event will be an indoor ribbon-cutting (using film instead of ribbon!). Also, the long-dormant outdoor ticket booth will come alive with public office-holders and volunteers distributing keepsake postcards commemorating the evening.
On the bill for this special evening will be four programs, each representing a turning point in the theater’s history and featuring films that have played the Admiral or its predecessor, the Portola Theater (which was in the building that is the current theater’s lobby):
* ERA ONE, the Portola Theater’s opening in 1919: A slate of classic silent films: Charlie Chaplin’s war parody “Shoulder Arms” (1918):
Plus three shorts, Harold Lloyd’s “The Marathon” (1919) and Buster Keaton’s “One Week” (1920) and “Cops” (1922). “Shoulder Arms” played the Portola Theater in August 1927. Showtimes: 6:50 and 8:40 p.m.
* ERA TWO, the Admiral Theater’s opening on Jan. 22, 1942: The Humphrey Bogart detective story “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), which played the Admiral Theater six weeks after it opened in 1942.
Showtimes: 6:30 and 8:50 p.m.
* ERA THREE, the Admiral’s twinning in spring 1973: The nostalgic comedy “American Graffiti” (1973), which played the Admiral Theater in August 1974.
Showtimes: 6:40 and 9 p.m.
* ERA FOUR, the renovation of the Admiral to four screens in fall 2016: The new Disney fantasy “Beauty and the Beast” (2017), which is slated to open at the Admiral on the previous Friday, March 17.
Showtimes: 6:20 and 9:10 p.m.
Tickets for each program will be regular prices: $11.50 for adults, $9.50 for children (under 13) and seniors (60+) and $10.50 military. Those purchasing a pair of tickets for an early-evening show and late-evening show will receive a complimentary bag of the Admiral’s famous popcorn.
Advance ticket purchases are encouraged because of the expected crowds that evening. Advance tickets can be purchased at the theater, 2343 California Ave. SW, or online here (click “Buy Tickets Online” in upper right corner).
The ribbon/film-cutting ceremony will take place at about 5:30 p.m. on the stairs inside the theater lobby. Participating in the ceremony will be a pair of public officials and West Seattle residents:
* Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, of District 1 (West Seattle and South Park), marking the city’s role in the 1989 landmarking of the Historic Admiral Theater, resulting from a grassroots campaign led by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
* King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, of District 8 (West Seattle, Vashon Island and parts of downtown), who championed the 4Culture “Building for Culture” grant of $95,000 that assisted in the renovation of the Historic Admiral Theater in 2016.
Also participating in the ceremony will be representatives of Far Away Entertainment, which operates the Historic Admiral Theater, and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
Other participants will include West Seattle residents Maryanne Tagney and David Jones, winners of a Historic Admiral Theater package at the historical society’s 2016 Champagne Gala Brunch.
The outdoor ticket booth will be open for the distribution of keepsake postcards at 5 p.m. Working the booth in shifts will be Herbold, McDermott, and volunteers from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
Before each screening that evening, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society will speak briefly about plans to restore the 1942 underwater murals that are now exposed on the interior walls of the outside walls of the theater. In the lobby, the historical society also will have an informational booth about the mural restoration.
The Historic Admiral Theater: a timeline
* 1919: The Portola Theater (the same building as the current Admiral Theater lobby) opens.
* Jan. 22, 1942: The Admiral Theater opens.
* Spring 1973: The main auditorium is cut in two, and the moviehouse becomes known as the Admiral Twin Theater.
* Jan. 29, 1989: The Southwest Seattle Historical Society pickets in front of the Admiral on closing night and launches a city landmark campaign for the moviehouse.
* July 1989: The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designates the Admiral a city landmark.
* April 2, 1992: The Admiral reopens after a closure of more than three years.
* Fall 2016: The Historic Admiral Theater undergoes $1.7 million renovation and expansion to four screens while retaining all landmarked historical features, including underwater appliqué murals exposed for the first time in more than four decades.
* March 22, 2017: “The Ship Sails Again: Four Screens, Four Eras” grand reopening celebration.
Though this is a “grand reopening” celebration, The Admiral has stayed open through the remodeling work, and is currently showing (corrected lineup) “Hidden Figures,” “Logan,” “Lion,” and “Kong” in both 2D and 3D.