Original Rhode Opera House built on subject site by Peter Rhode, Sr. 1891-1924 Facility is host to many stars of the era, including George M. Cohan; Geraldine Farrar (Carmen); Sir Harry Lauder; Admiral Byrd (lecturer); Maude Adams (Peter Pan); Amelia Earhart (lecturer); Otis Skinner (Liars); William Howard Taft (Presidential campaign); and the John Philip Sousa Band (several concerts).
Original Rhode Opera House is destroyed in a fire but rebuilt the same year on the same site.
Rhode Opera House turned over to Saxe Brothers Theaters of Milwaukee.
Saxe Brothers raze the Rhode Opera House.
Saxe Brothers hire architect George Rapp to design a new theater. The magnificent 1,260 seat facility is named the Gateway Theater and is constructed for one-half of one million dollars. It boasts a $60,000 organ offering wide instrumentation and sound effects. Colored ceramic tiles frame wall panes two stories high, and the lobby is adorned with Pearlman crystal chandeliers and six ceramic benches with scenes from Cervantes’ Don Quixote (still in place), as well as a lobby fountain and other luxurious amenities. James L. Morrissey is appointed as the first manager of the Gateway. On December 29, 1927, the Gateway Theater has its grand opening. Tickets for the long-awaited event cost 30 cents and includes live entertainment in addition to the first-run film, “She’s a Shiek” with Bebe Daniels.
Premiere of “Wizard of Oz” shown August 11 at the Gateway. Manager T.R. Reilly pulled it out of the box a day early. The rest of Wisconsin opened with it August 12 through August 15, West Coast premieres were August 15, while New York’s premiere wasn’t until August 17.
Standard Theaters leases the facility and renames it the Lake Theater. It re-opens April 28th under new management. The old “Gateway” sign is replaced with a new “Lake” sign. White wool carpeting, stereo sound and new red rocker seats (still in place) along with the restored fountain, greet audiences to the film, “Papa’s Delicate Condition” starring Jackie Gleason.
The Lake Theater is divided into duplex screens with approximately 420 seats in each auditorium. Balcony seats are removed and film equipment is relocated from the third floor to the mezzanine.
The Lake Theater closes its doors in April. 1986 Esseness Theater, successor to Standard Theaters, surrenders all interest in remaining lease terms to the Rhode Family Trust. Bob Irwin, Manager of the Kenosha Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID) requests permission from the Trust to find a buyer in lieu of tearing the historic building down. The Rhode Family expresses an interest in gifting the property to an eligible organization. On December 29th, the Rhode Family grants the property deed to Lakeshore’s BID.
The Lakeside Players become the first tenant. The first production at their new home is “Rehearsal for Murder.”
In September, the Lakeside Players purchase the building from Lakeshore BID for $50,000. In honor and recognition of the family, Gary Stamm, president of the Lakeside Players, recommends renaming the theater the Rhode Opera House. The east auditorium is named Donna Steigerwaldt Auditorium to honor Donna for her continued support (for several years to come) to Lakeside Players.
The west side office space was renovated and opened as the Pollard Gallery and Gifts, highlighting the Pollard Family and their role in Kenosha and the arts internationally. At this time, realizing the role Lakeside was playing in the community, they changed their name to Rhode Center for the Arts, owned and managed by Lakeside Players Inc.
Through a grant from the city for $500,000 the heating and cooling plant were built to service the complex, a piece that the Rhode could not move forward without.
The west auditorium, Skinner Hall, was completed with staging, lights, sound and has been continually used as an additional performing space, opening doors to a larger variety of productions at the Rhode.
A 3 year private grant completed the roof renovation. Carpeting, tile work and a double sized concession stand have been completed through a private donation from the Vignieri Family. Watch for more renovations and improvements.
During one of the coldest winters on record, a main pipe burst in the basement, resulting in a six-foot flood, and 90% of our props being destroyed. Due to the dedication of many, the show planned for the following week was able to open on time.
COVID-19 forces LSP to cancel the rest of the 2019-2020 season.
The 49th Season, LSP’s first full season in two years opens.
“Beauty and the Beast” sets LSP records in both sales, sellouts and attendance
LSP announces it’s 50th season