Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Loring Theater closes

From the Loring Theater's website:

Friends of Loring Theater:

The Directors, LLP has decided not to renew its lease on Loring Theater (a.k.a. The Music Box Theatre) located at 1407 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.  The company will cease operating in the building effective December 31, 2011.

In early 2010 we began to transform The Music Box Theatre into a modern day variety house under the building’s original name Loring Theater.   With the support of a group of investors, the owner of the building, a talented staff of professionals and many others we built an operating infrastructure that added a fantastic 440-seat venue back into the vibrant Twin Cities performing arts scene.

Since we opened, over 15,000 people walked through the doors and hundreds of artists performed on the stage.  We are proud of our work, honored to have been stewards of the space, and grateful to all who contributed their time, talent and money to this amazing venture.  Loring Theater is an amazing building in a phenomenal location and there are many, many artists who love performing on that stage.  Our hope is that someone will pick up where we left off and continue to make Nicollet Avenue and 14th Street in the Loring Park Neighborhood a destination for affordable quality entertainment. 

Best wishes to all for a happy and prosperous New Year.

Steve Barberio
The Directors, LLP

I'm sorry to learn this, but not surprised. The Loring was on a busy street in an inner-city neighborhood, and while free parking was available, it was a block away in a school parking lot surrounded by a chain-link cage.  The theater is an old venue in need of a facelift, with uncomfortable seats and a buzzy sound system. And yet, I really liked it--the spaciousness, the ornate plaster work, the columns, the sense of history. Somehow the room managed to expand and contract to fit the size of the audience, so when the large balcony was empty and dark, it disappeared, making those of us seated downstairs feel as if we were in a cozy, intimate space.

Part of the Loring's deliberately eclectic programming included jazz; music journalist Tad Hendrickson (formerly of Minneapolis, now living in New Jersey) brought interesting people in (the Dave King Trucking Co., Matthew Shipp, Israeli flutist Mattan Klein, and especially The Bad Plus performing Stravinsky's Rite of Spring), but it seemed at first as if no one at the Loring knew anyone in the local media. I heard about Matthew Shipp from a Goldstar mailing offering discounted tickets. I couldn't believe my eyes. Matthew Shipp, the great improviser, listed among movie bundles, musicals, and water parks? Most of the people who would have gone to see him found out too late. There simply wasn't enough publicity. I made as much noise as I could, but the big press never mentioned him. Then one evening after a show at the Loring I ended up chatting with some people from its PR department. One described walking up and down Nicollet, meeting business owners and residents in an effort to build an audience. I thought--seriously?

The NOWnet's Last Dance happened there, in April. So did KBEM's May Fest Jazz Party. Marco Benevento came in August; Todd Clouser's A Love Electric opened. Kip Jones played there, and the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, and this year's Heliotrope Festival found a temporary home at the Loring. I had hoped that Hendrickson might be able to book Fred Hersch's "My Coma Dreams" project and sent him pestering emails. Too bad about that.

But when one door closes, another opens, or so they say. I'm interested to see what Kate Nordstrum will do with the SPCO Center, now that she's been tapped to program a new music series there. It's a good space in St. Paul's historic Hamm Building, three floors up from the Artists' Quarter.


  1. Sad news, I went to see a few things there many years ago - I always liked the area and the arts scene in the city - I came back with an appreciation of film, theatre and opera...

  2. A loss for sure. I went to a bunch of stuff this past year and it was walking distance which was nice. I thought the programming was a bit scattered, but thought they would hopefully make it through these tough economic times.


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