The historic Madrid Theatre, built and owned by the McCormick Construction Company, opened in 1926 as a silent movie house with a Wurlitzer organ providing the soundtrack. Today, the ornate Spanish-style theatre is home to concerts, weddings, and special events. The theatre is a staple in Kansas City's entertainment history and a must-visit spot for music lovers.
The Madrid Theatre contains a long, rich history. In 1926, after its grand opening amidst an entertainment boom in Kansas City, George Trinastich leased and operated the silent movie house, advertising it as "The Distinctive Theatre." In the 1930s, Howard Hughes, eccentric business tycoon, Hollywood producer, and owner of RKO Pictures, bought the Madrid Theatre.
After nearly a decade of operation, the movie house closed in 1944 and sat vacant until it was purchased, gutted, and made into a warehouse in the early 1950s. In 1983, a craftsman bought it with a plan to renovate the building, but it became his woodshop in the meantime. Thankfully, a group of investors purchased the Madrid in 1995 with a goal to restore it. In the summer of 2001, it reopened its doors to the public and has remained an integral piece of Kansas City's entertainment history.
At the Madrid Theatre, you can find a variety of concerts, including rock, folk, indie, country, blues, rap, pop, hip hop, comedy, and more. All ages are welcome; however, anyone under 21 will be charged $2 at the door (cash only). General admission tickets are for standing only on the main floor. If you prefer a reserved seat, you can purchase tickets for a two-top cabaret table or a four-person high top table on the upper balcony. Buy concert tickets in advance online or at the theatre, if any remain, on show nights.
There are two bars on each floor of the Madrid Theatre where guests can grab drinks before or after the show. No outside food or alcohol is allowed.
Since its construction, the Madrid Theater's distinctive Spanish revival design set it apart from other venues. Like today, the exterior was clad with yellow brick and embellished with stained glass accents, decorative arched windows, a colorful tile roof, and terra cotta trim. The interior featured ornate plaster and the ceiling was adorned with many angel medallions. Although most of the original details are no longer, the angels remain. Look up next time you're at the Madrid, and you may feel like you're in a concertgoer's heaven.
Take a look at American singer/songwriter, Ani DiFranco performing live at the Madrid Theatre in the video below.
American composer/arranger Carl W. Stalling of Warner Brothers began his professional journey at the Madrid Theatre as a house organist for silent films. Later, he went on to work as music director for KC native Walt Disney. This experience eventually led his career to Warner Brothers, where he was best known for creating the scores for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.
Cover photo by CharmaineZoe's Melange is licensed under (CC BY 2.0).