The Century Theater

About a year ago they knocked down the Capas costume store on the White Horse Pike in Audubon to build an Eckerd Drugs. You could tell it used to be a theater of some sort because of the design. Today I found this history of that building:

Opened in 1921, many vaudeville acts entertained on the stage, and later films were shown.

The theater closed briefly in the 1960’s, and re-opened as the Coronet, showing first run movies, until a local movie chain bought it, then closed it in 1979.

The Campbell family (owner’s of Capa’s costumes and theatrical supplies) purchased the buiding in 1979. Music acts like Rick Springfield and Dexy’s Midnight Runners played there.

The Campbells formed a professional theater company, and a theater school. Outstanding students were sometimes invited to perform in the professional productions. The theater school was unusual, in that all phases of the school (dance, music, drama, art) participated in an original show at the end of the school year. The director and drama teacher was Richard Snee (who has gone on to produce the critically acclaimed children’s CD’s Mother Goose Rocks), his show Musical Mother Goose had its premiere at the Century.

As you might have guessed, I was one of those lucky students who experienced the magic of the Century. From 1980 to 1985.

The theater was a beauty, 1300 seats, a balcony, cavernous stage space, and a history that you could feel in the air.

The Campbells closed the theater and the school in 1985. Sadly, the theater became a storage space for Capa’s costumes. I drove by there last month, and found the theater partially demolished; just the stage still standing amidst piles of rubble. I read later that a chain drugstore is being built there, and that they are renting the space.

It’s a shame they couldn’t keep the old building around and turn it into something else. The last thing any town needs is another freaking drug store, although I do admit to shopping at that Eckerd’s. The people there are really nice. I just don’t see how the economy supports so many drug stores. Our aging society must pump a ton of money into the industry.


2 responses to “The Century Theater”

  1.  Avatar

    good job with the history research Ben. The CVZ across the street was a nice acme too. huber

  2. When I go in there it still looks like a grocery store. In Hammonton there is a dry cleaners that used to be a Taco Bell. It’s hilarious.