The Spreckels Theatre is located on Broadway in the heart of downtown San Diego. It is owned and operated by Jacquelyn Littlefield, who has been at the helm from the time it was a first run motion picture house.
Ms. Littlefield was responsible for it's original renovation and the return to a live theatre format in 1976 when she traveled to New York to forge a presentation agreement with the legendary theatrical producer and theatre Impresario James "Jimmy" Nederlander bringing tours of Broadway shows to San Diego for the first time. The memorable first season included Equus starring Brian Bedford; A Matter of Gravity starring Katherine Hepburn; Julie Harris in her award winning performance in the Belle Of Armhurst. Since that time innumerable live events have been presented for the people of San Diego, and the many visitors from across America, and the world.
In 2004, Ms. Littlefield closed the doors of the Spreckels in order to renovate the theatre. Improvements were made from the box office to the back-stage dressing rooms. Ms. Littlefield acted as interior decorator, implementing a sweeping renovation of the entire interior space. The theater reopened the doors in July of that year to continue with it's presentation of shows.
All who are part of the theatre are proud of their association with this beautiful architectural masterpiece! Since it's inception in 1912 it has been considered one of the finest theatres in the country. A rare combination of old world charm and modern convenience, it retains grace, comfort, and location that can't be beat!
The Spreckels is situated in the most vital district of downtown San Diego. It is directly adjacent to Horton Plaza's world renowned shopping, and it is convenient to the Gaslamp District, train station, trolley, Lindbergh International Airport, The Convention Center, and Baseball Park. San Diego is the sixth largest city in the US, and tourism is her biggest industry for both vacationers and conventions.
The Spreckels Theatre has been in continuous operation since its opening on August 23, 1912. It was commissioned by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the Pan American Exposition held in San Diego in 1915. When completed, San Diego's oldest theatre was the largest of its kind west of New York City. It was inaugurated with rave reviews for its beauty, architecture, acoustics, and as a perfect setting for the shows that graced its stage. The Spreckels opened with the New York production of Bought and Paid For.
Even by today's standards the Spreckels is deemed a modern structure meeting 85% of the state of the art of design standards according to research conducted by San Diego commissioners. The auditorium is open with no pillars or columns obstructing the sightlines. Servicing for the backstage is outstanding. It is possible for trucks to enter the stage on either side from two different streets. This feature allowed a full scale production of Ben Hur to play the Spreckels, complete with a horse drawn chariot race that entered through one stage door, galloped across the stage, exited through the other door and returned around the back of the theatre.
The theatre's decor is in the Baroque style. Allegorical paintings by Emil Mazy of Los Angeles decorate the proscenium and ceiling. The murals depict two angels sprinkling a horn-of-plenty and Neptune bringing San Diego the riches of the ocean. A large medallion in the ceiling depicts Dawn and four smaller medallions have motifs of Air, Water, Fire and Earth. The walls, ceiling and stairs of the grand lobby are finished in Predora onyx.
The theatre was first managed by "Jack" Dodge for 17 years. In 1931 it was acquired and run as a movie house by motion picture pioneer Louis B. Metzger, former sales manager of Universal Pictures. After his death his daughter, Jacquelyn Metzger Littlefield, took over the theatre operation. She later purchased the building in 1962. Subsequently, the exterior was painted, air conditioning was added, the elevators were renovated, the lobby was redecorated, seating was made accessible to the disabled, the dressing rooms and public restrooms were redecorated and the theatre was restored to accommodate stage productions. The Spreckels was designated a National Historic Site on August 4, 1972.
In its long history many luminaries have graced this stage including Abbott and Costello, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, John Lionel and Ethyl Barrymore, Enrico Caruso, Ray Charles, Katherine Hepburn, Al Jolsen, Eva LaGalliene, Kenny Loggins, Bela Lugosi, Anna Pavlova, Julian Bream, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Pierre Rampal, Will Rogers, Arthur Rubenstein, John Phillip Souza, Thompson Twins, Julie Harris, Paul Whiteman and Ed Wynn. It has also hosted many Broadway plays (Equus, Godspell, Raisin, Matter of Gravity, Belle of Amhurst, Greater Tuna), Moscow's Kirov Ballet, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Martha Graham as well as San Diego Opera, San Diego Symphony, San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego Ballet and the Old Globe Theatre.
Now fully staffed, the Spreckels Theatre is being booked with live theatre, music, and dance as well as corporate events with special flair. It is also a popular location for film, television and still photography.
2008 will be a landmark year for us at the Spreckels. We are presenting shows from New York and Los Angeles. We will also be proud to host plays produced by San Diego's Old Globe Theatre as well.