The ACE Theatrical Group is one of the leads in the public/private partnership that is restoring the Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue.
The theater, originally built in 1929 as the Loews Kings Theatre, was one of the era’s prime entertainment palaces featuring movies and live performances. The depression and the end of vaudeville dealt a death blow to the theater and its doors closed in 1977. It stood derelict until just last year when a massive $93 million renovation got underway.
How long have you lived in Flatbush?
I moved here with my family from Jamaica when I was 6 and have lived here ever since. I lived on Ocean Avenue then and I still do. One of the amazing things about Flatbush is that you can walk to school, from elementary school all the way to college. I left the neighborhood for college but went to neighborhood schools through high school at Erasmus Hall.
How is the renovation of the theater going?
It’s going great. The theater’s beauty has been preserved with the original plaster and paint schemes restored, vintage carpet put down and the original lighting fixtures restored and reinstalled. The facade has been cleaned, the marquee is up, the seats are in and we’re planning for an official opening early in 2015. The community seems excited for what will be a world-class performance arts space in their neighborhood with over 3,000 seats and hundreds of performances per year. Every day people share with me their personal stories (or their parents’ stories) about the glory days of the old Kings. They all tell me how thrilled they are that it is being restored.
What would you recommend that a first-time visitor to Flatbush do?
I would tell them to spend a day at the corner of Flatbush and Church avenues, on the steps of the Reformed Dutch Church, watching the ‘urban estuary’ of people coming here from the east, west, north and south.