The revived Palace Theater in downtown St. Paul has announced its first show: Regina Spektor.
The singer-songwriter is scheduled to play the one-time vaudeville theater on March 26. That won't necessarily be the first show at the Palace, but the stop on her Remember Us To Life tour stop is the first show to be announced by theater management.
The city of St. Paul bought the vacant downtown show house in 2014, and is spending $15.6 million refurbishing it as a music venue. First Avenue and Chicago-based Jam Productions will be running the operation, as a complement to other venues in the Twin Cities. The 2,800 capacity venue is expected to host about 100 performances and 200,000 people a year.
"We're very excited," said mayor Chris Coleman. "It's the first of what will be many, many bookings at the Palace has officially been announced, and artists like Regina Spektor I think will draw the kind of crowd exactly like we were hoping."
Tickets are scheduled to go on sale Friday.
The initial show will mark the end of a long and sometimes controversial rehabilitation for the theater on 7th Place, between St. Peter and Wabasha streets.
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Finished in 1916, The Palace was renamed the Orpheum as a movie theater just before the Great Depression, and it showed films until 1981. It was temporary home to A Prairie Home Companion in 1984, and later hosted a small dinner theater in the lobby.
More than a decade ago, then-mayor Randy Kelly talked of trying to get Disney to rehab and program the space.
Instead, the city took on the project, initially planning to spend $12 million on the makeover. But costs have ballooned with the unexpected complications of renovating a century-old theater. That's drawn fire from even members of the City Council, as Coleman proposed a 7 percent property tax increase this fall, even as the theater was poised to open, leading council member Dai Thao to publicly question the city's spending priorities.
"It's more important now than ever that we continue to drive the vibrancy of our community," Coleman said. "There are always people saying, 'Why are you building CHS Field, why are you building light rail?' The fact of the matter we're building these things, because it drives businesses that want to be in our community, it drives people who want to live in our community."
The venue is about twice the size of legendary music club First Avenue and it's meant to be an interim stop for musical acts between clubs and arena-sized shows like the Target Center or the Xcel Energy Center.