The Colonial Theatre first opened its doors on January 29, 1924. Located in the heart of the city of Keene, New Hampshire, on Main Street, it quickly became a focal point for the arts. Owner Charles Baldwin proudly called it “New England’s most modern and perfectly appointed theater.” Over the years, the Colonial has hosted movies, vaudeville shows, operas and numerous community events. Some early highlights include Metropolitan Opera star Rosa Ponselle singing four encores of “O Sole Mio”; Thornton Wilder reading from The Women of Argos; Amelia Earhart lecturing on the possibilities of cross-Atlantic air travel; and Maude Adams performing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. By 1945, the theatre’s stage no longer held actors in pursuit of their craft as it had done so proudly for the previous 16 years. Instead, celluloid movie stars captured the attention of audiences. The majesty of The Colonial began to disintegrate over time. By the early 1990s, it looked like the only remaining historic theatre in Keene might not survive.To visit Colonial Theatre on your trip to Keene, use our Keene holiday planner.
In 1991, a small group of devoted Keene citizens decided that The Colonial Theatre must be saved. By 1993, they had established the theatre as a nonprofit organization and had begun to articulate a clear mission. Their efforts resulted in the hiring of an administrative staff and $2 million in grants and private donations from the community for infrastructure renovations. By March 3, 1995, the restored hardwood stage was in use once again.
Since then, more than 350 live performances have entertained and enlightened audiences of all ages at The Colonial. Award-winning films are shown nightly on the largest state-of-the-art movie screen in the region. In 2004, The Colonial Theatre was added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places.
As we begin our third decade as a not-for-profit organization, we are proud to continue the tradition of excellence for which The Colonial has become known.
Colonial Theatre Reviews
My wife and I visited the Colonial Theater for the first time after moving to Surry, NH, 32 months ago to see a Lion's Club fund raiser, the comical musical, "Mamma Mia". The program was first rate..... more »
Great acoustics for music, beautifully decorated, wonderful volunteers, no seats have unobstructed views of the stage. A gem that we need to cherish. more »
Great theatre and great location. I went and saw an opera and it was fantastic. The sound quality coming from the speakers was amazing (it was a recording from the Met). They have other cool performances too. The staff was nice and the tickets aren't too over priced. My only complaint is that the food is fairly expensive. But I had a great time.
This is wonderful old theatre, I would not call it a movie theater though this is a stage theater. We were here for a live folk music event. As an old stage theater it has the same charm that they all have. Accommodations have been made for handicapped. As I was on vacation, I will probably not be back, but not because of the theater. It is not close enough of a regular venue to me.
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