Kirby Center for the Performing Arts

When you see the state-of-the-art facility and experience the classy decor and surroundings of the venue, you might be surprised by how rich and storied the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts’ history is. It was originally built in 1937 and known as the Comerford Theatre, with an Art Deco-Moderne style on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. The building had an unusual trapezoidal shape that gave it early fame, which was supported by a steel frame and brick construction with a four-bay wide terra cotta and marble front facade. The facade had a stylized ziggurat composition, a central tower, corrugated steel decorations, and a marquee. From this unique and rich design, many fans came to expect high class shows every time they passed through the front doors of the venue.

The idea to build the theatre came about after the success of a Comerford Theatre in Scranton that led to the construction of a new theatre in Wilkes-Barre. The venue’s premiere showing was of Alexander’s Ragtime Band when it opened August 18, 1938. At the time, the venue had a capacity for 2,047 patrons. Ownership of the theatre changed hands to Penn Paramount Company following the 1949 antitrust laws. The venue was briefly closed for repairs in the late 1940s, reopening in September of 1949 as the Paramount Theatre. 

The theatre continued to operate until the 1970s as attendance had dropped after the venue was flooded due to Hurricane Agnes. After the venue ceased operations in 1977, it was sold to a new owner who gave the venue occasional use as a concert and boxing venue. Around this time, local businesses formed a group known as “Save the Old Paramount” (S.T.O.P.) that wanted to see the venue returned to its former glory and use. The theatre was such an integral part of the city, that it was an easy decision to add it to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. But it seemed like these efforts wouldn’t save the venue.

The facility was mostly vacant during the 80s due to its need for heavy repairs. In 1985, Albert Boscoy, August Simms, and Fred Kirby II raised $3.3 million to restore the theatre. Once the funds were collected, construction began on December 21, 1985, finally reopening on September 19, 1986, as the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, after Fred Morgan Kirby.

Ever since then, millions of fans have come to the center to enjoy Broadway productions, concerts, ballet recitals, comedy acts, and more as the old tradition of the original theatre has been restored for the world to enjoy.

See below for more information on the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts:

Kirby Center for the Performing Arts Parking:
Find out more about parking at the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

Ticket Policies:
Read about the ticket guarantee, refunds and strict ticket verification policies.

Kirby Center for the Performing Arts Seating Chart:
View the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts seating chart and read seating information.