An institution that stretches back to 1736, the original Dock Street Theatre was the first American building specifically designed for theatrical performances. Although that first incarnation most likely burned in the Great Fire of 1740, further forms carried it through the centuries as a hotel occupied by such figures as John Wilkes Booth’s father and Robert Smalls, a hero of the Civil War. In 1936, the WPA carved the current form of the theater out of the shell of the old hotel. More recently, the venue received a $19 million makeover and now sports crystalline acoustics, seismic security, and fresh new seats for stellar views of charismatic characters and stagehands playing Rock, Paper, Scissors in the wings.
It started small: in 1931, Lieutenant Commander Charles Russell Price directed a series of one-act plays at the Charleston Navy Yard. The series was an unexpected success, and a year later, his band of amateur theater-makers had evolved into an
In 2012, Park Plaza Cinema made the conversion from reel to digital projectors, which WTOC chronicled locally. "It's a sad day. It's a historical day," Lucie Mann, who owns the theater with her husband, Larry, told WTOC. The digital conversion has not been the only upgrade at Park Plaza. The new Parlez-Vous Lounge and Ciné-Café invites guests to relax on its cushy benches or barstools for housemade ice cream or gourmet pizza or wings. Select beers and wines are also available. Along with its regular rotation of Hollywood blockbusters, family films, and arthouse cinema, the theater also organizes movie clubs and hosts a weekly movie-discussion group with a film critic.