Historic Wall Street Theater Reinvented for Concerts, Live Streaming, Private Events

The Wall Street Theater in Norwalk has a rich history dating back to 1915. Now extensively renovated, it is a premiere destination across the region for fans of live music.

With its iconic fleur-de-lis logo, aqua painted corbels and inviting box office, the theater is part of the Wall Street Historic District added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

At the Wall Street Theater, big name musicians are just the beginning. The state-of-the-art theater is a venue for live entertainment including comedy, ballet and dance troupes, community theater, and even parties and fundraisers.

The theater can produce live streams of everything from private events and corporate events to weddings that can be viewed on a computer, or even a phone.

The Wall Street Theater is located at 71 Wall Street in Norwalk. Photo: Leslie Yager
Originally the theater opened as The Regent in 1915 seating 1,300. Today, the theater seats 700, but orchestra seats are removable to accommodate events including non-profit fundraisers and private parties. May 23, 2022 Photo: Leslie Yager

A painstaking multi-year renovation effort that ended in 2016 brought the faded gem back to life, and the theater is positioned to anchor the historic neighborhood as it transitions post-pandemic to an updated mix of residential and retail.

For Frank Farricker, who is originally from Greenwich and is president of President of Lockwood and Mead Real Estate, and his partner Suzanne Cahill, the theater’s executive director, the Wall Street Theater is a source of pride and joy.

The couple recalled the many hurdles and surprises from their undertaking, including the day the “men in space suits” arrived to remove asbestos, the decision to replace 18-inch seats with wider ones, and the moment they spotted the corner of an original, in tact, hand painted mural peeking out from more recent sheetrock.

On Monday morning, as staff mopped and cleaned the theater following a weekend of dance performances, Farricker and Cahill described the painstaking years-long historic restoration of the theater, which today operates as a non-profit.

The task was not for the feint of heart, as the travails of bringing a derelict historic theater back to life required an imperturbable calm.

Cahill said the brick building’s interior had taken on a sheen of green after years of neglected roof maintenance. The only thing keeping out the elements was layers of tar on the flat roof. Over time, the flat roof was breached, bringing in unsavory elements, both wet and wild.

But that was then. Since the top-to-bottom renovation was completed, Cahill has been able to focus time and energy on booking talent.

Suzanne Cahill, executive director of the Wall Street Theater takes a moment to enjoy the rooftop views of Norwalk. May 23, 2022. Photo: Leslie Yager
Ryan Podber and Lily Osgan explore the green room at The Wall Street Theater. Photo: Leslie Yager

A tour for guests includes backstage, VIP room, green room with kitchenette and dressing rooms, offices, views from the balcony and some surprises.

A secret door leads to a new white roof designed to reflect heat. From this perch, the vistas are mostly green, punctuated by the city’s historic church steeples.

The orchestra seating is now a flat surface with removable chairs that enable the theater to host gala events where guests can mingle and enjoy a beverage without navigating a slope.

The theater is notable for its unique proscenium arch separating the stage from the auditorium and impressive fly system.

The theater also offers orchestra box seats, balcony seating, and even a private soundproof viewing area with its own bar and rest room.

Cahill explained that the name Wall Street Theater is deliberate, since it is named after its location, which won’t change, a welcome final punctuation after more than a century of name changes.

A painted “TR” visible at the peak of the theater’s proscenium arch harkens back to those years the theater operated as The Regent.

Cahill said back in the era of vaudeville, a sea of tents would be erected at the side of the theater. Performers, animals and crew would rest overnight before moving on up the line, either toward Danbury or Massachusetts for their next gig.

During the Depression the space was converted into a movie theater, offering a more affordable night out for residents of the growing city, reopening as The Norwalk Theater. Along with movies, the theater hosted a variety of events ranging from boxing matches to concerts. The Norwalk Theater operated until 1989.

In 1993, the theater reopened as a music club, The Marquee, featuring live bands.

The Marquee closed after a year but opened in 1994 under new ownership as The Globe, presenting bands such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Violent Femmes and The Go-Go’s. Then, in 1999, new owners opened The Roxy, a dance club.

The wall in the downstairs green room, where talent relaxes before performing, features a chalkboard with list of some of the famous performers who have graced the stage, including Elvis Presley, David Byrne, Peter Frampton, Paula Abdul and David Lee Roth.

Theater Rentals and Live Streaming

While the theater has reinvented itself many times, creativity and imagination continue to stretch, and the theater embraces the new normal.

Not only is the theater a live concert destination, with upcoming performances including legendary artists Buddy Guy, Gordon Lightfoot, Taj Mahal and Lucinda Williams, but with six positioned cameras and the ability to live-stream, corporate and private events can be shared around the world.

In fact, during the pandemic the Wall Street Theater was a popular venue for virtual weddings for up to 10 people, including bride, groom and their wedding party in person, but with social distancing. The live streaming technology and 21-foot interactive screen on the stage, made it possible for families and friends Zoomed in for the nuptials.

Also, during the pandemic the theater made it their mission to keep people laughing by providing live stream comedy events direct. Familiar comedians such as Chris DeStefano, Anthony Rodia and other funny voices were enjoyed. 

Churches also rent out the space for services and the sound proof private room at the top of the balcony is handy for mothers with babies to participate without interrupting services.

Cahill said the theater is holding its Gala on June 11 with the Legendary Buddy Guy.

Tickets were available at www.wallstreettheater.org

Email the theater at [email protected] or call (203) 831-5004

The Wall Street Theater is located at 71 Wall Street in Norwalk, CT