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St. Louis Theatre: Peabody offers blast from the past

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The historically rich doors of the Peabody Opera House will be opening for the first time in 20 years this October. After receiving $78.7 million in restoration, the Opera House is sure to be more magnificent than ever.  The Peabody Opera House (formerly the Kiel Opera House) at 1400 Market St. is located in the heart of Downtown St. Louis. This historic landmark offers the community a vivacious place to catch a show in timeless fashion.

Not just restricted to music, The Peabody promises guests entertainment on all levels. Whether it is theater, special family events, comedians or even holiday happenings, something will always be going on at The Peabody. What makes The Peabody so unique, like St. Louis itself, is the treasure chest of history that lies within it.

This history goes all the way back to 1934, when the Opera House, known then as The Municipal Auditorium, was constructed. A name change in 1943 gave the opera house the more familiar title of the Kiel Opera House, named after a former mayor of St. Louis.

In a time of success in the years that followed, the Opera House attracted some of the biggest names in music history to ever take the stage. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Duke Ellington and Bruce Springsteen are just a sample of the greatness that has taken place within the elaborate walls of the Opera House.

But the time came in 1991 when the decision was made to close down the Kiel Opera House – and all the memories within it. A slew of slumping years and the construction of the Scottrade Center in 1994 was the main cause for such action.

Through the years of its vacancy, however, many attempts were made to bring the great wonder back to life. Although they were unsuccessful, the final attempt made in June of 2010 was, and is, a triumph.  The owner, SCP Worldwide, which also owns the St. Louis Blues and the Scottrade Center, has put in the funds necessary to restore the old Opera House back to the breathtaking shape it once was.

With the grand reopening of the Opera House this fall, The Peabody will hold its opening night, featuring comedian Jay Leno and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, on Oct. 1. The event is fittingly titled as “An encore 77 years in the making.”

Leno and Franklin will come together to make a memorable night for the city of St. Louis. Plenty of other special guests will be making the stage to celebrate the past, present and future of the Opera House.  With its rebirth, The Peabody establishes itself as one of the primary sources of art and culture in St. Louis, and it puts St. Louis on the map for quality live entertainment.  In this day and age, The Peabody offers an experience that most could only read about and dream of.

“So, grab a top hat, a white tie, and your tails,” and come stepping out to The Peabody this fall.

One Comment

  1. Ede Golterman says:

    The former mayor was Henry W. Kiel, who helped build the Coliseum at Jefferson & Market. As mayor in 1917, he approved construction of the Municipal Theater in Forest Park. After 3-terms he was general contractor on the Opera House and convention hall. Guy Golterman produced or presented the grand operas that opened all 3. Kiel and Golterman ‘partnered’ in making St. Louis a major destination for music,arts and culture for 6 decades. We are far from that because of restraint-of-trade of both the opera house and MUNY. That restraint of trade flows from grand avenue in both directions, through the power of Civic Progress. That needs to change-fast.

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