Checking In With the City-Run Majestic Theater, Which Is Getting a Bit of a Facelift

A Friend of Unfair Park who lives near the Majestic Theater (lucky!) wonders what's going on inside the historic venue, which, earlier this year, had its roof replaced and new air-conditioning unit installed (lucky!) courtesy some '06 bond money set aside for much-needed improvements. So happens that today the city's Office of Cultural Affairs posted to its Facebook page a few snapshots of the interior work being done, which looks all the more impressive thanks to the scaffolding that's engulfed the joint.

Maria Munoz-Blanco, director of the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, says this is the Big Finish to a long few months' worth of repairs, which also included giving the building a watertighten-up. "We're going to fix some of the plasterwork that needs to be fixed," she says. "And it looks incredibly dramatic because to get to the balustrades they had to build scaffolding from the bottom up."

Munoz-Blanco says the work should be done by the end of August, and in mid-September the play The Diary of Black Men will begin a run originally scheduled for July. After that, Benny Hinn's got an event planned. And after that ... well, look, let's just jump as the OCA director talks about how it's going now that the city's running the Majestic.

Maybe you remember: In May of '09 the city and Dallas Summer Musicals, which had been booking the building, parted ways, with DSM insisting it was losing stacks of money each year. The city issued an RFP in the hopes of finding a third-party operator but had no luck -- though one frigid evening at the end of '09, I was walking through downtown with Billy Zane, then in town shooting The Deep End for ABC, as he was saying how he was seriously considering making a move on the Majestic. (Alas.)

Long story short: The city officially took over the Majestic beginning last November, with that Sarah Palin-Rick Perry event the first event under OCA's watch. I asked Munoz-Blanco how it's going -- especially with the theater out of commission for a while.

"I think in the first year -- and, remember, we started late, in November -- revenue from the Majestic has covered 70 percent of the expenses related to the operation," she says. "We did OK. We did 65 events with 100 days of use, give or take, which is about our goal."

She points to several events forthcoming: Dallas Black Dance Theater's Dance Africa, which runs two days in early October, and that Anthony Bourdain appearance later that month (which, she says, isn't sold out but is getting awful close). There's another eat-n-tell scheduled in November with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro.

Then there are the two big October fund-raisers: Clint Black's got an October 22 date on behalf of the UT Southwestern St. Paul Medical Foundation, and Jay Leno's in a week later for CitySquare's annual Big Event. Munoz-Blanco also says a New York producer's looking to give a would-be Broadway production a month-long tryout. (She said what it is, off the record, and I'm trying to confirm -- it's interesting, let's say that.)

"The Majestic's going back to its Vaudeville roots," says the OCA head, who's actually based out of the Majestic, lucky. "We're doing a bit of everything. And when you work here, you fall in love with the building. You can't help it."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky