Landmark, ’tis a silly name.
The first show I saw at the Mosque/Landmark/Altria Theater was Sugar Babies with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller way back in 1985. Unfortunately, Ann Miller had twisted her ankle and her understudy (according to my extensive Google research Jane Summerhays) took her place. She did a fine job, but I was disappointed that I did not get to see Ann Miller. I also have vague memories that Rooney’s reviews in the River City were not good. He didn’t like Richmond. Richmond didn’t like him. Or something like that.
The Mosque/Landmark/Altria Theater is a beautiful building. I’ve seen multiple shows there, and actually performed on stage there in 1998 in The Master’s Plan.
But the building was in much need of repair. And sound has long been a problem. When we saw Les Miserables there, my wife and I were glad that we had seen the show previously and knew the music. Otherwise we would not have understood the singers. And we were sitting behind the sound board. Sound has improved and I realize that sometimes it depended upon the system brought in by the traveling shows.
For a while we were subscribers to Broadway Under the Stars, until that group went under and we lost some $200 plus for shows not seen that season. There’s a new subscription option now, but we’ve not taken advantage of it, choosing instead to see select shows. And quite frankly choosing to see more local theater, which sometimes includes me.
Fortunately a $60 million renovation project is scheduled to be completed in October. Altria contributed some $10 million toward that renovation and they get their name on the marquee.
I’m good with that. In fact if Altria wants to renovate my house they can call it anything they want. Just sayin’.
The Landmark needed renovation. And it needed a new name.
Yes, Mosque was an unfortunate name for a theater. It originated when the building was built in 1926 to serve as the main temple of the Acca Shriners, the Richmond Branch of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The Shriners lost the building due to financial difficulties in the 1930s and the City of Richmond purchased the building in 1940. Area Muslimes petitioned the City to change the name in the 1990s The City agreed.
But “Landmark” was only slightly better than “Big Brick Building.” The Altria Theater makes much more sense.
I look forward to my next opportunity to attend a performance at the Altria Theater. And by that I mean if you, or Altria, wish to buy me tickets to see Wicked, I would gratefully accept.
…Everyone deserves a chance to fly!