Ohio Theatre

1564 State Road,
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223

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Opened in February, 1936, the Ohio Theatre sat just north of the High Bridge connecting Akron with Cuyahoga Falls. An advantage of its suburban location was its ability to provide two acres of free parking for patrons.

Popular in its early years, the house began to decline with the arrival of television and was closed by 1953. That year, it was converted into the home of Rex Humbard’s Calvary Temple, which outgrew the facility within a few years.

In 1959, the Ohio Theatre was reopened as a live theater presenting productions of Broadway musicals, and in 1961 it hosted a Shakespeare festival, with the young John Lithgow as one of the company’s actors. After closing as a theater the building housed a series of restaurants, and in 1985 it became Hilarities Comedy Club.

Hilarities occupied the theater until the building was gutted by a fire in 2004. After sitting vacant for three years, the Ohio Theatre building was demolished in 2007.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

A photo of the auditorium of the Ohio Theatre, plus a photo of the exterior after it had become Rex Humbard’s Calvary Temple, and a photo of the projection booth can be seen in a slide show on this page of the Akron Beacon Journal web site. The accompanying article (click link at lower left of photos) by Mark J. Price says that the Ohio Theatre was designed by an Akron Engineer, John W. Egan. That probably accounts for the rather plain style of the front. I haven’t found who designed the interior, which was rather old fashioned for 1936.

The Shakespeare festival presented at the house in 1961 was mounted by Arthur Lithgow, father of actor John Lithgow. It had been scheduled for Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, where it had been presented the previous year, but by a narrow vote the Board of Directors of the Hall Foundation had ousted Lithgow, and he moved the performances to the Ohio Theatre, then still owned by television evangelist Rex Humbard, who let the festival use the theater rent-free, according to John Lithgow’s memoir, Drama: An Actor’s Education.

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