In 1991, the Capitol Theatre, together with the smaller, adjoining Empress Theatre, was purchased by the City of Moncton and assigned a Board of Directors. The Theatre had been converted many years before into a movie cinema, but Monctonians now wished to restore the building to its former glory. Restoration of this stately piece of Moncton heritage began in February 1992.
The City enlisted consultants David and Patti Hannivan of Hannivan & Company Limited, Ontario, a firm with extensive experience in theatre restoration. On their first visit to the Capitol, the Hannivans probed beneath four coats of paint and discovered evidence of extensive stenciling, gold leafing, and even murals! Indications were that the Capitol had in its heyday, been decorated in the style of the Pantages and other Vaudeville theatres. This find influenced the decision to restore the Capitol to its original look of 1922, making it one of only eight such theatres in Canada.
The Capitol Theatre opened its doors to the public in the fall of 1993. Theatre New Brunswick opened its 1993 season with the world premiere of Lucien II "Lucien’s Labour Lost" by Marshall Button. Ironically exactly three years later, Button was hired as the Capitol’s artistic director.
Also that year enthusiastic audiences filled the house for a thrilling production of The Nutcracker, featuring sets designed by internationally acclaimed visual artist, David Silverberg. Audiences again applauded the exceptional acoustics during many subsequent performances, including concerts by Holly Cole, Lenny Gallant, the Barra MacNeils and others. The Capitol continues to host regular performances by Theatre New Brunswick, Symphony New Brunswick, Théâtre populaire d’Acadie and festivals such as the Francofête and the HubCap Comedy Festival. During the last decade, hundreds of stars have shined on stage at the Capitol. Those performers include Mr. Dressup, Barenaked Ladies, Rawlins Cross, Measha Brueggergosman and The Moffats.
The Theatre’s plush 800 seat auditorium, can be booked for various functions, conventions or reunions. Meeting space is also available on the second level in the Empress and Balcony Lounge. The Empress Theatre has been very popular for the taping of television specials including: CBC’s Double Etoiles, T.F.O.’s Boite a Chansons and the Capitol’s very own Late Night Live, Songwriters Circle and the Ligue d’improvisation acadienne.
In a decade, the Capitol Theatre went from an old abandoned movie theatre to one of the most vibrant and dynamic cultural center, for both the Anglophone and Francophone communities. It is now your turn to discover the Capitol Theatre and share a part of our history.