The evening of September 11, 1922 was one of the most memorable of Homer Curran's life. On that night the theatre bearing his name gave its premiere performance. Refusing to take the limelight no matter how much society coaxed, Homer Curran was content with enjoying the applause for his beautiful theatre. When Homer Curran died in 1952, the San Francisco Chronicle called the Curran a monument to his memory. In a sense it is. But, as he demonstrated on opening night, it is also something more. With all the emotion and applause, bows and roses, and even the boredom, missed lines, chewing gum and silent curses which fill a theatre over the years, the Curran - like any good theatre - almost has a life of its own.
The Curran theatre was born of a conflict between two rival New York theatrical corporations. Starting in 1910, Sam S. and Lee Shubert, Inc. mounted a determined effort to overcome the monopoly of theatre productions and bookings held by the aptly named Theatrical Syndicate. To break the Syndicate, the Shuberts had to build a nationwide chain of theatres which could be booked from their offices in New York.
For a San Francisco theatre the Shuberts entered into a partnership with Homer Curran. They could not have chosen a better man. Curran knew San Francisco and its theatrical likes and dislikes, was an able manager, and was dedicated to maintaining high dramatic standards. For his part, he was lucky to have the Shuberts in his corner. They helped him raise the $800,000 necessary to construct the Curran theatre. And more importantly, as a member of the Shubert chain, he could obtain New York and European productions which would not have made the long trek to San Francisco just to play in a single theatre.
When San Francisco's "radiant maids and matrons, smartly frocked, and their masculine escorts, faultlessly attired" came out to welcome the Curran at its opening, they were not merely grasping at the first bit of New York glitter which drifted through town. They were celebrating the birth of a showplace tailor-made for a city which always loved to bask in its own elegance and sophistication. The theatre itself was beautiful. With its rose, tan and blue interior, its twenty rows of brown leather seats, its four hundred light crystal chandeliers, its embroidered blue and purple velvet curtain, and its pastoral murals by Arthur Matthews, the Curran was called the "handsomest theatre on the coast."
The Early Years
Throughout the Twenties, San Franciscans filled the Curran to see light dramas and musical comedies such as The Cat and the Canary, Coquette and Patsy. No, No, Nanette was the City's favorite when it opened in 1925. However, these "tabloid operas" were not the only shows applauded at the Curran. Classical music and dance also held an important place in the theatre's repertoire.
The Curran Theatre Today
After extensive renovations in 1993 - made to accommodate the five year engagement of Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera - the Curran Theatre continues to thrive under the direction of Carole Shorenstein Hays and Scott E. Nederlander. Their Best of Broadway series brings the highest quality musical theatre productions and award-winning plays to the Bay Area. Over the years, Best of Broadway subscribers have enjoyed everything from the Tony Award-winning plays Fences and Proof to the spectacular historical musical Les Miserables, as well as pre-Broadway productions of Boaz Luhrman's production of Puccini's La Boheme and Wicked.
Curran Theatre Past and Present shows
I Am My Own Wife Tickets Curran Theater
La Boheme Tickets Curran Theater
Wicked Tickets Curran Theater