Capitol Theatre

201 State Street,
Madison, WI 53703

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

Trolleyguy on October 1, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Duck Soup Cinema has returned for Halloween: Duck Soup

Justwideman on September 16, 2021 at 2:49 pm

It’s a shame there is no sign on it anymore like the old pics. Sidewalk trees are blocking it as well and will only grow bigger and block the view of this amazing building even more.

DavidZornig on July 30, 2018 at 4:36 pm

1939 photo added via Mike Mase Mason.

Trolleyguy on July 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

The Capitol is currently undergoing an exterior refurbishment. Matching bricks have been located from demolition sites, and now the search is on for the blade marquee. It was supposedly put into storage in the 70s, but no one seems to know where. It would be a nice complement to the new sign on the Orpheum Theatre across the street.

LeslieB on January 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm

In 1955, Ben Marcus bought the theatre. It had 2,250 seats. At that time, 2 stores occupied the first floor of the building. In 1956, he sold it to Stanley-Warner Theatres, which had been operating under a lease arrangement.

MiltonSmith on June 2, 2012 at 2:42 am

I just saw this post. Ralph, is there any way you could post a picture of these wall torch lights? If not, could you e-mail me a pic?

ruricius on March 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I’ve been carrying around about 15 of the original wall torch lights from the theatre for about 35 years now. In fact i just installed one today… still works (with a bit of WD40 to get the connections apart!). Ralph Mathisen UW ‘69, '73, '79

MiltonSmith on July 19, 2009 at 4:47 am

Well, it sort of looks like an old theatre in the auditorium, but its not the old theatre. Its a new auditorium pretty much built to look like an old theatre based off the old theatre that was once there.

Its sad, but oh well, I guess it could have been worse, they could have gutted and gave it the bland look.

MiltonSmith on May 4, 2008 at 5:34 am

That’s really about all that’s left of the Capitol Theatre…the facade.

MiltonSmith on April 19, 2007 at 3:16 am

I honestly don’t think it would have mattered. There really is nothing left of the Capitol Theatre anyhow. Heck, I had gone to the Civic Center for years before I found out that there was actually another theatre in that spot previous to it being the Civic Center! There was nothing to really indicate it was an old theatre, to be honest. I’ve not been in it since becoming the Overture but I’m guessing it looks even less so now.

tmsenzig on April 19, 2007 at 3:06 am

At least this theatre was retained; original plans for Overture called for the complete demolition of the Capitol Theatre.

MiltonSmith on February 16, 2007 at 2:27 am

I’m not sure how this could still be called the Capitol Theatre. After first being heavily modified when it became part of the Madison Civic Center and then further mangling as it was turned into part of the Madison Overture Center. The only way you can really tell it was ever the Capitol Theatre is from the interior of the auditorium and from the mangling they did converting it into part of the Overture, ripping out the seats under the balcony and turning it into a lobby, I’m not even sure you can tell it from that.

Very sad indeed.

tmsenzig on October 9, 2006 at 8:42 pm

I saw the most recent in the Duck Soup Cinema series, with Dennis James accompanying at the Barton, and it was truly magical indeed, even though I was in a less than desirable seat in the balcony. I am planning on attending the next in the series coming up next month.

kencmcintyre on August 11, 2006 at 11:42 pm

Here are the photos from the Wisconsin Historical Society, to augment the members' above contributions:

vitaphone on January 3, 2006 at 7:03 pm

I urge everybody to see Duck Soup Cinema in the future. As the projectionist at this venue since 1982 I can honestly say this is the best way to see a silent movie. We get our prints from all the major archives and they are the best available. We also run our prints in the proper aspect ratio and speed. All prints are 35mm.

carolgrau on November 14, 2005 at 1:21 pm

I wish they all had carbons and reel to reel, then they would find out real quick just how many idiots they have in booths across the Country. Bring back the Real Projectionist.

Trolleyguy on November 13, 2005 at 3:20 pm

The Capitol should now be shown as open. It is a performing arts cnter and movie theater. They have kept the old carbon arc lamp houses and use reel -to-reel projectors because the owners of the classic films that will be shown there do not want them put on a platter system. They will hosting a silent film series accompanied by the Barton organ, called Duck Soup Cinema.

WPilgreen on August 1, 2005 at 3:03 am

The Wisconsin Historical Society has several photographs on its website of the Capitol/Oscar Mayer under construction in 1927, as well as other news and publicity photos from the 1930s.

WPilgreen on August 1, 2005 at 3:02 am

The Wisconsin Historical Society has several photographs on its website of the Capitol/Oscar Mayer under construction in 1927, as well as other news and publicity photos from the 1930s.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 8, 2005 at 12:28 am

Opened as the Capitol Theatre on 20th January 1928 with the movie “Her Wild Oats” starring Colleen Moore plus vaudeville acts. It was operated by Warner Bros. and later by RKO-Stanley Warner who sold it to the City of Madison for $650,000 in July 1974.

The firm Hardy, Holzman & Pfiefer designed the restoration when it became the Oscar Meyer Theatre.

Trolleyguy on March 24, 2005 at 2:34 am

Yes, the ornate 1927 lobby was torn out then and has been demolished again. The new lobby will be the former section under the balcony, which has had its ceiling restored, as seen in this photo.

View link

Targeted opening date for the new theater is in November 2005. Many original movie house items – including two chandeliers, a Barton organ and elegant balcony – remain, and Overture officials have been careful to maintain the theater’s vintage appearance.

Tattered and dusty curtains with loose tassels still hang from the theater stage’s proscenium arch to help designers recreate a similar-looking item with identical placement.

“It’ll be a new curtain,” said a representative for Overture Development Corp., “but it will be in keeping with the idea that we want the theater to have an old, familiar feel.”