Actors play many parts and sometimes, theaters have many lives.
A good example is Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater, a Downtown landmark at 101 Sixth Street.
It opened as the Gayety on Halloween in 1904. The Gayety offered its patrons a mix of full-length plays and satirical sketches plus musical revues that often featured a chorus line made up of attractive women with shapely legs.
The Gayety once showcased a group of international women wrestlers who offered any local woman $100 if she could stay standing for 10 minutes while on stage with the troupe.
Starting in the 1930s, the theater was renamed the Fulton and became a mecca for moviegoers. But by the mid-1980s, the carpeting was threadbare and dotted with pieces of old chewing gum, requiring patrons to step carefully. The ceiling leaked so some seats were roped off. But people still came to see movies, such as “Mommie Dearest.”
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust bought the 1,300-seat theater in 1988, restored it and reopened it in 1991. The theater was renamed in honor of generous donors William C. and Carolyn M. Byham. Today, the theater hosts concerts, dance, musicals, films and the well-known storytelling event, “The Moth.”