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History
Centered in the historic St. George District, the St. George Theatre in its’ day was the most magnificent theatre on Staten Island. A beautiful 2,800 seat venue, Solomon Brill of the Isle Theatrical Company broke ground in August of 1928 and the doors of this palatial emporium opened on December 4th, 1929. The cost of the project, which included an attached office complex, was two million dollars, $500,000 of which was for the theatre.
 
Brill, who owned several other theatres on the Island and once owned a nickelodeon with William Fox of 20th Century Fox fame, promised to bring top-of-the-line vaudeville to the borough for an admission fee of 75 cents. He envisioned the St. George as a dream show house rivaling Manhattan's cathedrals of cinema. At a time when many of the large movie houses were built by big Hollywood studios, Brill was an independent owner of fifteen theatres in the NYC area. Prior to his death in 1932, he sold one half of his interest in the St. George Theatre to Joseph Kohn, who later sold to the Fabian Theatre chain.

The Island's newest movie and vaudeville house outshone most of its competitors of the day, including Manhattan's Capitol Theatre on Broadway. Some of the theatres unique features included the absence of any obstructions; a $25,000 Wurlitzer organ; an advanced cooling & heating system; one of the largest cantilevered balconies ever built and velvet seats, gilded balconies and grand staircases.

The main architect was Eugene DeRosa; he was assisted by Staten Island resident James Whitford, who was known as the “dean of Staten Island architects.” Mr. Whitford also designed the Ritz, Liberty and Victory theatres, none of which exist today. The ornate interior of the theatre was designed by Nestor Castro. Mr. Castro was the art director for the Libman-Spanjer Corporation which designed the interiors of many theatres in the Times Square area. The majority of the elaborate architecture that is visible to theatre patrons is the result of Mr. Castro's artistic genius.

The St. George Theatre's interior is a variety of Spanish and Italian Baroque styles. The lobby is spacious with two box office windows and six windows displaying upcoming attractions. The foyer is illuminated by large stained glass chandeliers and majestic winding staircases lead up to the equally elaborate mezzanine level. Hanging above the grand lobby are oversized paintings of a bullfight and a Spanish village. Throughout the theatre are murals, tiled fountains and sculpted figures set in niches. The balcony and mezzanine originally had 1,400 seats and the orchestra section had another 1,600; about two thirds of those remain today.

The first movie to play was "So This Is College" and the headline act was the husband and wife team of Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields. The movie and vaudeville format featured performers such as Al Jolson, Kate Smith and Guy Lombardo. The live performances ended in 1934 but began again during the 1940's when shows promoting the sale of war bonds featured personalities such as Rose Marie and Arthur Godfrey.

The theatre was sold again in 1938 to the Fabian Theater chain who continued to operate it as a movie palace until 1972. Several owners since then have tried reincarnations that included a roller rink, an antique showroom and a night club, none of which were successful. Another attempt was made in the mid-1990's to reopen as a performing arts center and a performance featuring Pat Cooper and Connie Francis was presented. This venture, too, failed and the owner ultimately gave up. With the exception of filming the finale of the 2003 film “School of Rock” at the theatre, it has basically remained shut for the past 25 years.
 
Rosemary Cappozalo, along with her daughters Doreen Cugno, Luanne Sorrentino and Rosemary Hillers entered the picture in April of 2004. "Mrs. Rosemary" as she is better known due to her forty plus years as a dance teacher on Staten Island, took over the theatre which was transferred to the Richmond Dance Ensemble, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the restoration of the historic St. George Theatre and its development as a Cultural and Performing Arts center. As the new owners and operators of the St. George Theatre, they began major repairs to restore the theatre back to its' original magnificent splendor.  In the Fall of 2007, the not-for-profit organization became the St. George Theatre Restoration, Inc. 

When Mrs. Rosemary and her daughters first entered the theatre, the bathrooms were non-functioning and had water pouring through the ceilings; the ornate plaster walls had holes the size of their bodies; the orchestra seats had been torn out and those in the balcony had been vandalized;
the building needed a new roof and there were broken cinder blocks and glass throughout. Mrs. Rosemary poured her life savings into the project and, despite all the obstacles, the ladies had the theatre open in twelve weeks time.

The newly renovated St. George Theatre serves as a cultural arts center for a myriad of activities including outreach educational programs, architectural tours, television and film shoots, concerts, comedy, Broadway touring companies and small and large scale children's shows.

The magnificent St. George Theatre shines once again and serves Staten Island and all of New York. By polishing this treasured jewel, the integrity of its' unique structure will be maintained and a major boost will be given to the revitalization efforts of this North Shore community.

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    Restaurants Guide:

Great places to "Wine and Dine" before and after an event at the St. George Theatre!

These restaurants are walking distance to the theatre!

Cargo Cafe  ~  120 Bay Street  718-876-0539 ~  www.myspace.com/cargocafe
Enoteca Maria  ~ 27 Hyatt Street  718-447-2777 ~ www.enotecamaria.com
Karl's Klipper ~ 40 Bay Street ~ 718-720-4442 ~ www.karlsklipper.com  
Ruddy and Dean's  ~  44 Richmond Terrace  718-816-4400 ~ www.ruddyanddean.com
Beso Restaurant ~ 11 Schyler Street 718-816-8162 ~ www.besonyc.com

More great places to "Wine and Dine" before and after an event at the St. George Theatre!

Applebee's   Staten Island Mall  718-370-3761
Applebee's   1451 Richmond Avenue  718-477-1300
Applebee's   430 New Dorp Lane  718-980-7800          
Bayou ~ 1072 Bay Street 718-273-4383 ~ www.bayoustatenisland.com
Bocelli's Restuarant ~ 1250 Hylan Blvd.  718-420-6150 ~ www.bocellirest.com
Cafe Milano ~   401 Forest Avenue 718-720-1313  
Carabbas Grill ~ 280 Marsh Avenue  718-477-9000 ~  www.carrabbas.com
Da Noi ~ 138 Fingerboard Road 718-720-1650 ~  www.danoirestaurant.com
Perry's Catering and Event Planning ~ 718-966-4966, 646-372-0977
Lacey's Bridge Tavern  ~  75 Innis Street  718-273-7514 ~ www.laceysbridgetavern.com
Lorenzo's Restaurant and Bar ~ 1100 South Avenue  718-477-2400 ~  www.lorenzosdining.com
R H Tugs ~ 1115 Richmond Terrace  718-447-6369 ~ www.rhtugs.com
The Road House  ~  1400 Clove Road  718-447-0033 ~ www.theroadhouse.biz
Afternoones Restaurant ~ 415 Forest Avenue  718-816-6744
Valeno Grill ~ 530 Forest Avenue  718-390-2061 ~ www.valenogrill.com
Li Greci's Staaten ~ 697 Forest Avenue 718-448-6000 ~ lunch served daily

restaurant sponsors

Need a place to stay after the show?
Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn 718-477-2400
Hampton Inn & Suites 718-477-1626
Staten Island Hotel 718-698-5000

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