(Image Source: Michayla Lupien, The Palace Theatre)

In the heart of Manchester lies the entrance to a world of talent where the arts come alive. Among the long list of places in Manchester to visit, there is only one that stands out for its beautiful architecture, inspiring history and remarkable talent.

This remarkable stage is the Palace Theater.

Located at 80 Hanover Street, the Palace Theater first opened its doors on April 9, 2015. At the time, the Palace Theater was considered the only “first-class” theater in N.H. that was both fireproof and “air conditioned.” A Greek immigrant, Victor Charas, was the creative mastermind behind the Theater’s breathtaking design that began construction in 1914. Charas’ impressive and grand design of the Theatre was fashioned after “The Palace Theater” on Broadway in New York City.

From 1915-1930, the theater was in its prime. Vaudeville acts often stopped at the Palace Stage to perform, including Harry Houdini, Bob Hope and The Marx Brothers. Additionally, stock companies performed there up to 12 times a week. In 1928, a patron seeing their resident company, “The Palace Players,” perform would cost just 75 cents.

Times changed quickly in the 1930s when audiences started seeing movies. From 1930 to the early 1960s, the Palace stood as a movie theater.

The Palace took an ugly turn in the 1960s. It no longer had connections to its artistic beginnings. The Palace fell into disrepair; seats were removed, stage equipment was left to deteriorate and the building became a warehouse.

However, Manchester lawyer John McLane and Mayor Sylvio S. Dupuis held a campaign to restore the Palace Theater and construction was soon underway. After a series of misfortunes in 1974 and 1984, a beautifully restored theater now stands as a 834-seat professional performing arts center.

The Palace Theater holds eight full-scale professional productions a year under the vision of its artistic director, choreographer and lighting designer, Carl Rajotte.

“To hold a full scale production, we keep three things in mind: what our artistic team feels inspired to bring to the stage, what our patrons want to see and that the legal rights are available to put on the show,”said Michayla Lupien, Marketing Coordinator for the Palace Theater. “People often request we do “Wicked” but it would be highly illegal! Rights have to be available.”

After basing costume design, set design and sound design on Rajotte’s spectacular vision, the theater holds two open calls, one in New York and one locally. After choices are made, actors’ contracts are sent out, marketing starts promoting the show, tickets are sold and rehearsals are put into place.

“In the blink of an eye, it’s opening night! Costumes have been made, dancing and vocals perfected and everyone can feel the excitement,” said Lupien. “The Palace is a well-oiled machine. If there’s a snag, we work it out but otherwise, I wouldn’t call the process difficult – more often it’s rather fun and exciting.”

Students at SNHU are encouraged to participate in all the different productions. For professional theater auditions, it is recommended a student has a couple of professional credits to his/her name. However, a vast experience in community theater or college productions count as well.

To audition, the only thing needed is a professional headshot and a resume that lists acting experience and special skills. It should also include height and vocal range, as many productions are musicals.

For monologues, it is recommended to memorize an age-appropriate monologue that has a begin, middle and end.

For spectators, The Palace encourages SNHU students to take advantage of their student discount and attend as many performances as they want. Students can also become a member of the Palace. With a membership. students can meet actors attend an after party with them following a show. SNHU students can also apply to work at the youth theater program the Place offers that also holds full-scale performances, as well as camps and workshops.

If you want to rent The Palace Theater for a performance, contact Ray Garon at 603 – 668- 5588 Ext. 204. Or, if you are looking to intern at The Palace Theatre, please contact davidrousseau@palacetheatre.org.

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