Salem is a town rich in artistic, theatrical, and musical talent. During any given weekend in Salem there are three to four plays and musicals, improv comedy, various touring shows, dinner theater, workshops, and special events.  A couple of theaters in the downtown core are nearly as old as the town itself, signifying the depth of Salem’s commitment to the arts.  There are numerous artistic expressions throughout the community found in expected and unexpected places and venues.  Salem is a place where paying attention pays off; there are creative forces everywhere – especially in the downtown core.

downtown salem

Salem hosts international and regional world-class theatrical productions throughout each year at a number of venues. Some venues are new, like the Salem Convention Center that recently held the TEDx Salem event, others are nearly as old as Salem itself, like the Reed Opera House, the Grand Theater and Ballroom, and the Elsinore Theater.

The Reed Opera House was built in 1869/70.  Originally intended to house the Oregon Legislature, Supreme Court, and library, a last-minute change caused it to be designed with shops on the lower floor and opera house on the second and third floors. Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harris, and John Phillip Sousa all made appearances on the Reed’s stages until the opening of the Grand Theater in 1900.  The Reed still serves as a space for shops as well as a space for the innovative and provocative Black Box Theater, Verona Studio.

The Grand Theater was built as an opera house and lodge for the International Order of the Odd Fellows in 1900.  John Philip Sousa performed at the theater’s opening in November, 1900.  It still serves as an event venue and theater today where it hosts the monthly Salem Progressive Film Series and the workshops and productions of Enlightened Theatrics.  The Elsinore Theater was built in 1926 when it was called the finest theater between San Francisco and Portland.  Eventually allowed to fall into disrepair, the Elsinore was renovated by passionate Salem-ites who established a nonprofit, The Historic Elsinore Theater, with the mission to “Promote, protect and enhance the Elsinore as an historic national landmark and performing arts center.”

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elsinore stage Elsinore lobby

The Elsinore Theater is a local jewel that continues its legacy of cinema, theater, and performing arts.  Classic movies are shown regularly, world-renowned musicians, actors, and performers grace its stage, and locally produced performances often animate the hall.  Silent movies are also shown, presenting an opportunity to see and hear the sounds of the Elsinore’s magnificent Parks/Murdock Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.  The organ, with 26 ranks and 1, 778 pipes, is the largest theater organ installed in a theater in the Pacific Northwest.  The Reed and the Elsinore are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Pentacle Theater is a more recent, but well established nonprofit community theater.  It is in it’s 61st year and is host to continuous, well-regarded performances that routinely sell out.  Located in a beautiful playhouse in the woods of West Salem, the Pentacle offers polished productions populated by very talented, local, volunteer actors. 

Living at Pringle Creek Community offers a peaceful residence just a few miles away from all of this amazing talent.  Visit us and experience Salem’s rich cultural lifestyle!