The New Century Theatre is an intimate live performance venue and a flexible use meeting and educational space established by Hennepin Theatre Trust and located adjacent to its offices in City Center. The New Century Theatre is known for hosting the popular New Century Sessions music series featuring Minnesota’s best local artists, as well as long-running comedy shows, Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s season and its own arts education activities and programs like Broadway Confidential. It was named after the original Century Theatre, one of four historic theatres on the block where City Center is now located. It first opened in 1908 as a 2,000 seat vaudeville house called the Miles. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, it hosted mostly second-run films and the occasional live show until closing in 1954 for renovation. When it reopened as the Century Cinerama, it featured the new technology of widescreen projection before a fire gutted the theatre in 1965 and the building was demolished. The site was later incorporated into City Center where it has once again been transformed into a theatre for the community.
Rent the New Century Theatre
Make Your Next Corporate Meeting or Event the Gathering of the Century!
“Your facility was perfect for our needs, and your staff solidified this venue as a top notch place to tour with. Thanks so much for your advancement of the arts in the Minneapolis area.”
Scott M. Brusven
Producer/President, Act Up Theatre Company
“I am honored for the experience of working with Hennepin Theatre Trust to perform in the New Century Theatre. [It] “was perfect for our purposes…an incredibly flexible space, which felt full and intimate. Beyond its geographic location in the heart of downtown right in the Hennepin Theatre District, this space felt important, professional and the students felt ownership. The fact that it was incredibly easy for Stages Theatre Company and its staff to work with the New Century Theatre was a great bonus. The true and most important factor of working with this space and the Trust was the life-changing experiences these students had. I cannot give enough thanks for the opportunity for the partnership.”
Adam E. Hegg
Director of FAIR School Theatre Programs for Stages Theatre Company
“The New Century is a great addition to the Minneapolis theatre scene. While there are a lot of performance spaces throughout the city, adding a new, flexible, small venue downtown gives visitors yet another option for entertainment in the core of the city that they can easily walk or bike to from the downtown hotels. For residents, it provides yet another reason to come downtown and explore something new. Promoting our city is easy with all of the entertainment options in Minneapolis!”
Marketing Communication Manager, Meet Minneapolis
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The Century Theatre originally opened in 1908 as a 2,000 seat vaudeville house called the Miles. It was built by the Minneapolis firm of Kees and Colburn and designed in an Art Deco/French Renaissance style. It was one of four historic theatres on the block where City Center is now located–The Century and Strand Theatre faced Seventh Street and the Gopher and Aster Theatre faced Hennepin Avenue.
In 1915, it was renovated and re-opened as the Garrick Theatre and featured live stage shows and motion pictures until 1928. One year later, it was re-designed by the architectural firm Liebenberg and Kaplan, renamed the Century Theatre and showcased as the most up-to-date movie house west of Chicago when it officially opened in September 1929. It had a seating capacity of approximately 1,600 with its 4,500 lightbulb vertical marquee rising more than 25 feet above the façade.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, it hosted mostly second-run films and the occasional live show until closing again in 1954 for another renovation. When it reopened as the Century Cinerama with a reduced capacity of 1,145, it featured the new technology of widescreen projection onto a deeply curved screen and became only the eleventh theatre in the United States to include this new technology.
Theatre fans embraced this new way of watching movies and soon the Century Cinerama rivaled the State Fair as a tourist attraction, with the 1963 Elizabeth Taylor film “Cleopatra” playing there for more than a year. The era of cinerama waned after a long showing of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and the theatre closed in 1964. A fire broke out and gutted the theatre several weeks later and the building was demolished in February 1965.
The site is now part of City Center and has been transformed into the New Century Theatre, a flexible use performance space established by Hennepin Theatre Trust to increase its arts education and presenting activities. The Trust will use the new theatre for shows similar to those it presented at Hennepin Stages including Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women and A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol. It will also be home to local and touring performances and for education initiatives offered by the Trust, such as the Broadway Confidential series, student cabarets and training for the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program.
My Theatre Story?
Did you get engaged at one of the theatres? Were you an usher? A performer? A construction worker? A stagehand? The Orpheum, State, Pantages and Century Theatres have a long and colorful history dating back to the early 1900s. If you, or someone you know, has a personal story or interesting anecdote related to these fine venues, we would love to hear it.
Hennepin Theatre Trust is in the process of collecting and preserving these valuable stories to help us capture the rich history of these theatres so that we can share them with future generations. We plan to capture these stories to share with the public through written materials and a planned historical documentary about the theatres.