Brooklynites and tourists alike can feel as if they are going back in time as they discover a Flatbush landmark that has been returned to its original beauty.
One of the vaunted movie palaces of the early part of the 20th century, the historic Kings Theatre, recently restored, is offering tours of the venue’s elaborate and carefully renovated Renaissance Revival interior, which took its inspiration from such structures as the Paris Opera House and the Chateau of Versailles.
The tours provide a behind-the-scenes look at the theater, which closed in 1977 and fell into disrepair before a painstaking restoration, years in the making, resulted in its reopening in 2015.
“You’ll learn the history of the building, information on the style of the building and the process for how they created this design and style and process that was recreated to restore it to its initial state,” said Director of Marketing Sarah Weiss. “I think getting to know it, taking in the beauty of the theater and getting the history of the neighborhood and also what it is now and what it means to the neighborhood now, as well as what it meant in the past, are really the highlights of this tour.”
In particular, said Weiss, tour-goers will be able to go into to a couple of special private lounges not open to the general audience but that are included on the tour.
The tours run 75-90 minutes and include a brief video presentation. Following that, attendees walk up the grand staircase through the mezzanine and through different lounges. They sit in the mezzanine for a bit before heading back down through the main orchestra area.
“People love being inside the theater and seeing it fully lit and the grand majesty of walking into the theater for the first time and being able to take your time to look around and having a moment to really interact more with the theater itself,” Weiss stressed. “When you’re coming to a show, of course your point of focus is being there for what is going to happen on stage. This is an opportunity to learn and see and get to know about the chandeliers in the lobby and the history of how this came to be in Flatbush, Brooklyn and what it was before it was a great performing arts space.”
Thus far, fans have been eager to see and learn about the space, Weiss went on. “The reception has been great and the tours have all sold out,” she said. “Many people like to come to the tour and then come for a concert. This is an extraordinary space to see performers and many people that come for a concert experience want to come for a tour so they can learn about the history, so the two work well hand-in-hand.”
The crowd for the tours has been diverse, she added. “We have people that are right here from the neighborhood as well as tourists from all over the world,” Weiss said. “We’ve definitely had folks come by who are here from their vacation and added the theater to their sightseeing schedule.”
Since its 2015 reopening, the Kings Theatre has presented live performances, from concerts to comedy shows and much more. While the 1920s decor has been burnished, the theater is 21st century in terms of the advanced technical improvements and modern amenities that were part of the restoration.
After a few months late last year of conducting larger community events, such as a Christmas-themed event called Winter Wonderland, the tours — which began shortly after the venue reopened in 2015 — returned this past January, and have sold out each month since.
A morning tour will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, Tuesday, May 16 and Tuesday, June 20. Evening happy hour tours are also offered and include a glass of wine. Those will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday April 20, Thursday, May 18 and Thursday, June 22. Tickets for morning tours are $15 each and tickets for the happy hour tour are $25.