Before Curran Theatre's Reopening, Take A 'Detour' To Explore Its History

Before the first theatrical performance of 2017 takes place in the recently renovated Curran theatre (445 Geary St.), the public will have a chance to take an in-depth walk through the building’s history—using a new Detour audio guide.

Built in 1922, the 1,600-seat Curran recently underwent a complete renovation, with owner Carole Shorenstein Hays aiming to present "bold, daring work" like the Tony-winning musical Fun Home, which will run from January 25th-February 19th, and Eclipsed, a play about women in Liberia that had a Broadway run last year (with Lupita Nyong'o starring), and will premiere at the Curran in March. 

But while it may be committed to showcasing creative new theater experiences, the Curran is also steeped in history. More than 8,000 performances have occurred there, and it's also played host to movie premieres and appeared in the 1950 classic film All About Eve

The walls backstage have inscriptions from stagehands through the years. | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

Before the Curran gets taken over for Fun Home, it's opening up its doors for two days of public exploration on January 18th and 19th, from 4-8:30pm. Visitors can download the Detour audio tour to learn about the theater's history, as well as the extent of the recent renovations. Sign-ups to take the tour in person will be available through the Curran at 3pm on January 11.

To get the theater into shape, the ceilings, chandelier and painted murals had to be deep-cleaned, removing decades of cigarette smoke and city grime, explained Jaron Caldwell, a representative for the venue. All of the seats were reupholstered in red, and the beige carpets were replaced with vibrant patterns. 

The building's original chandelier sparkles after an extensive cleaning. | Photo: Little Fang Photo

The restrooms, where the renovations began, are one of the major improvements to the theater. Prior to the makeover, patrons were often seen running to a Jack in the Box franchise across the street to avoid waiting in long lines for the theater's handful of restrooms. Now, it's upgraded to more modern facilities.

The women’s room now boasts 19 stalls and the men's room 17, and both have huge mirrors, in a setting of deep red tiles that were each hand-placed. More than 1,700 tons of dirt had to be shoveled out to make room for the restrooms and the murals on the nearby walls, which also represent the Curran branding.

Photo: Little Fang Photo

The theater has three bars (one on each floor), which will be open an hour before each show, to encourage people to come early, Caldwell said. 

On some nights, such as the opening night of Fun Home, the bars will also stay open after the show as well, to encourage theatergoers to stick around, meet fellow audience members and discuss what they've just experienced. 

Photo: Little Fang Photo

The bars are part of the Curran's plan to attract a new, younger audience of theatergoers, who tend to be less likely to plan their nightlife weeks or months in advance, Caldwell said.

Rather than offering season tickets at a high upfront cost, the theater is launching the Curran Club, a membership program that offers perks like early or discounted ticket purchase options, exclusive members-only events, backstage passes and special deals at nearby restaurants and hotels.

Curran Club members could enjoy backstage access. | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

Anyone that buys a ticket to Fun Home will also receive a year’s membership to the Curran Club for free, Caldwell said. Memberships will also be sold separately, though a price hasn't yet been set. 

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Take a detour to the remodeled curran theater nearly a century after its first show