Choose to hold your next event in a theater, and you can make all your guests feel like they are a VIP.
“There’s something magical about walking into a building where a few of your favorite artists or celebrities have been, and something that’s seen so much history,” says Amy Simon, special events manager at the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie. “There are a lot of shared experiences in the building, and you feel that as soon as you walk through the door. It makes anyone feel special.”
From a 1920s former movie house to the Verizon Theatre that was built in 2002, these Texas theaters offer out-of-the-ordinary opportunities to make your guests feel like a headliner.
The Granada Theater
The Granada Theater in Dallas was built in 1946 as a movie house. It was converted to a concert hall in the 1970s before converting back to a movie house. In 2004, The Granada opened once more as a concert hall.
However, the theater retains its original, film-inspired murals located throughout its interior, depicting different genres of film along with a mythological goddess standing over a reel of film. “There’s a real art deco feel to it,” says Kevin Thornburg, vice president of business development at The Granada. “The overall feel and ambiance catapult you to an era gone by.”
Groups can use the theater’s lobby for a cocktail reception or its upstairs balcony for a plated dinner, photo booth area or lounge. No furniture is fixed to the theater floor, so the space is very flexible and can scale from a smaller, more intimate event to a standing reception of 1,000 people. “We’re able to create an intimate, but spacious event,” Thornburg says. “Planners come here for the adaptability.”
There are four bars at The Granada; one is in the lobby and three are in the theater. Catering comes from the Sundown at Granada restaurant, located next door. The restaurant prides itself on farm-to-table fare, focusing on non-GMO and mainly organic ingredients. Parking is available on-site as well as through a valet.
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Verizon Theatre opened in Grand Prairie (between Dallas and Fort Worth) in 2002 and has since hosted big names like Alicia Keys, Robin Williams and Michael Bublé, as well as events like the Southwest Airlines Message to the Field and the NFL’s Super Bowl Concert Series. This massive venue can host groups as large as 15,000 in its adjoining outdoor field or as small 50 in one of its suites.
Though the venue can accommodate thou - sands (its theater seats 6,333 people and the lobby can host a reception of 1,200), its indoor spaces can be narrowed down to suit smaller groups. Seating can be reduced in the theatre to 1,900 with sliding walls, and curtains can block off the upper balcony to make the space feel more intimate.
For a more private feel, smaller groups can use the Club Lounge, which can accommodate 125 people for a reception, or the Super Suite, which can accommodate 50 seated guests or 75 for a reception.
To give your guests a celebrity experience, groups can have a seated dinner of 200 on the stage or a cocktail reception of 500. “With the stage lit up, it’s cool to look out on the seats and feel like you’re performing,” says Simon.
Outside, the Verizon Theatre’s 350,000 square feet of parking lot and The Field & Verizon Theatre (an outdoor field owned by the theater) can be used for rollaway stages and tenting for festivals and outdoor attractions.
Catering for the venue is done through Wolfgang Puck Catering. “They’re interna - tionally known for how elegant and elaborate they can be with their dishes, or the dishes can be as simple and understated as you want them to be,” says Simon.
The theater is busiest during March, May, October and November due to tours, accord - ing to Simon. She recommends checking six to eight months in advance for availability.
The Kessler was built in Dallas in 1941 as a single-screen, art deco movie house. Singer and actor Gene Autry owned the movie house in the 1940s, and it was used for religious services in the 1950s and 1960s. The theater was unfortunately damaged by a tornado and then a fire. The building stayed in use for storage until it was purchased and renovated by Edwin Cabaniss, a Dallas entrepreneur. The theater reopened in 2010.
The set-up inside the theater is flexible, said Diana Cox, director of operations for Kessler Entertainment Group, since no furniture is fixed to the main hardwood floors. There’s also a U-shaped balcony that wraps around the stage with padded silver chairs and some original movie theater seats. Depending on the set-up, The Kessler can accommodate 100 to 500 people.
There are two bars in the space, including in the theater’s front lobby, on its upper floor and in the VIP lounge and reserved gallery. The Kessler offers in-house catering, and groups can use a projector and screen for presentations. Groups can put their names on its neon marquee outside as well.
The theater has an intimate feel with an emphasis on artistry. There is a lot of character, thanks to original artwork by local or regional artists. Because of its distinctive style, The Kessler is not a blank slate that a company can put its brand on, Cox says. “You’re coming into an intimate location that’s decorated to our style,” Cox says. “It’s a little bit different and quirky.”
The Heights Theater
The Heights Theater was built in Houston in 1929 as a single-screen movie house. In the 1930s, the theater underwent a full, art deco renovation. Unfortunately, the building was gutted in the 1960s following a massive fire. Most recently used as an art gallery and event space, The Heights was recently purchased by Edwin Cabaniss. After its renovation, The Heights hosted its first concert in late November 2016.
Both The Kessler and The Heights theaters are owned by Kessler Entertainment Group. The Heights has a similar layout to The Kessler, though is larger. The theater can accommodate 100 to 600 people. Instead of silver, padded chairs and movie seats in its balcony, The Heights has vintage church pews for most of its seating. The Heights also offers the same focus on music and sound quality as The Kessler.
Like The Kessler, The Heights has its own unique style, an asset for groups who book an event there, Cox said. “People booking corporate events just want something different,” Cox says. “They really want to shake it up.”