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After waiting decades, Landmark Theatre will finally get new seats, marquee

After waiting decades, the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse will finally be getting new seats and a new marquee, in time for its 2020-21 season. The upgrades are meant to increase attendance and bring in bigger shows for longer runs. 

The 2,800 seats at the Landmark are original, more than 90 years old and were designed with a 1920s audience in mind, smaller than people today.

Credit Tom Magnarelli
The current seats at the Landmark.

“It is the most common thing people cite about the theater than prevents them from coming here," said Mike Intaglietta, executive director of the Landmark. "And we want to say, if that’s going to prevent them from coming here, then we want to fix it.”

The new seats will be a vast improvement; larger, more comfortable, higher off the ground, and with added leg room. There will be more accessible seats for people with disabilities. The theater will lose some space with the larger seats, but will still keep seating capacity above 2,700.

As for the marquee in front of the building, it's from the 1950s.

"It is in a state of disrepair that we're not proud of," Intaglietta said.

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Some of the disrepair under the current marquee.

Many of the lights are out, and the front panels are missing, covered up with a banner. The new marquee will replace the box style with a replica of the original arched, decorative design featuring video displays and LED lights.  

A $2 million state grant will fund 80 percent of the renovations. The Landmark will raise the rest.

"The theater is a gem of 1928 architecture, which is irreplaceable for us to replicate the design work that went into the building," Intaglietta said. "But there are upgrades that we can do that will maintain the historic look, but be able to bring some 21st century amenities."

Renovations will take place over 14 weeks this summer.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.