Arizona ArtBeat: Celebrity Theatre

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The Celebrity Theatre turns 50 this year. Find out about the theatre’s history and one man’s dream to own it.

Steve Goldstein: In today's Artbeat segment we look at the iconic celebrity theater, now years old. The theater has hosted everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Bruce Springsteen. Producer Shana fisher and photographers Ed Kishel and Scot Olson show us how one man turned his dream into a realty we can all enjoy.

As a little boy, Rich knew he would own the theater one day.

Rich Hazelwood: My paper route was across the street. I would ride by here going to my paper route when they started building it. Since I was an early morning republic paper boy we used to watch them bring all the cranes and stuff into the building.

Some years later his wish has come true. Hazelwood bought the theater in and has put more than $ million into renovating it.

Rich Hazelwood: I'm not a musical person. I'm a business guy. I looked at all of the things that I thought the positive parts that I could fix up and make the place really good. As you look around you see the incredible change that the place has gone through over the last or years. We keep getting a little nicer, a little bit cleaner, the acts get a little bit better. Those are the things that drive me. I'm not musical at all.

One thing that has not changed about the foot diameter theater, the intimate setting. It can hold , and there's not a bad seat in the house.

Rich Hazelwood: The experience I think you get from coming to a concert here is that you're in the middle of an act, especially a sold-out act, you just a part of it. The furthest seat is feet from the stage, so you're right in the middle of it. The act, you can tell the act because they know they are in the middle of it, and that enthusiasm builds throughout the whole place. It's an incredible feeling when everybody is on their feet and singing or dancing or screaming. It's incredible feeling.

Adding to the uniqueness of the theater is its degree rotating stage that puts an act directly in front of fans. Because of its small size and partly because of that round stage, it can sometimes be hard to book musical acts. So Hazelwood and his team worked hard to get the theater designated an historic landmark.

Rich Hazelwood: A lot of acts won't play a round theater. The fact that we have historical designation, believe it or not, it turns the acts on. I think when they come in and they know all these things and we try to relay that to them, they start to feel a little more important about playing here. So that's a big plus for us.

It's not just the building itself that has history. Step into the lounge and all around is memorabilia from the last years. A Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirt, a signed Stevie Nicks photo, a ticket stub from Diana Ross's concert and dozens of autographed guitars.

Rich Hazelwood: I think if we own something sometimes we take it for granted. I think that's the fun part of owning this place, knowing maybe last night or the night before we had an incredible act on the stage, and I own it. I think that's really exciting to me. Where is the show?

Steve Goldstein: The building was designed by architect Perry Neuschatz to be a multi-purpose convention center. The theater opened January , with the musical South Pacific. That's it for now. I'm Steve Goldstein. Ted will be back tomorrow. We hope you have a great night.

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