Benedum Center Information

The Benedum Center (formerly known as The Stanley Theatre), is a  Pittsburgh Cultural Trust theater situated in the heart of Pittburgh’s cultural district. With a 2,800 seat capacity, the theater showcases some of the best Broadway shows in America.

Benedum Center

About Benedum Center

The Benedum Center was named after the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, which made the largest contribution toward the restoration of the grand building. Owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the restored 2,800-seat theater in Pittsburgh is a centerpiece of the Cultural District. From concerts to Broadway musicals, the Benedum Center hosts a wide range of regional, national and international performance arts that entertains guests from all over the world. The theater is formerly known as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts and has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places as well as been dubbed “Number One Auditorium in the U.S.” by Billboard several times!

Benedum Center interior

Benedum Center History

The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, previously known as the Stanley Theatre, boasts a vibrant history. In 1928, the grand venue, designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Hoffman-Henon, opened its doors as a deluxe movie palace. It stood tall with a seating capacity of 3,800, soon becoming the largest movie theater in Western Pennsylvania. The Stanley Theatre was known as the home of entertainment, providing a welcome lift of spirits during the Great Depression.

Over the years, the theater gained recognition for hosting major acts, from the iconic Frank Sinatra’s performance in 1943 to the appearances of bands like War and King Crimson in 1974. Known as “Pittsburgh’s Palace of Amusement,” this grand venue earned the title of “Number One Auditorium in the U.S.” by Billboard. In 1977, DiCesare and Engler Productions bought the building, turning it into an epic Rock and Roll hall.

During the mid-1980s, the theater had a revamp. A whopping $43 million went into transforming the old movie palace into the vibrant Benedum Center for the Performing Arts that is celebrated today. They kept the classic design but added modern support facilities, expanded the stage, and enhanced the acoustics, turning it into a full-fledged performing arts center. The late H.J. Heinz II was a key player in the theater’s restoration, especially when it came to the centerpiece – a grand, 4,700-pound chandelier hanging in the dome above the balcony. Fun fact: There are more than a whopping 90 crystal chandeliers, torchieres and sconces in the venue!!

The Benedum Center opened on Friday 25th September 1987, with a show called “Purely Pittsburgh,” which was written by Dan Langen and produced by Mandy Levine. Since its transformation into the Center, it has become a vibrant cultural hub with a 2,800 seat capacity. It has housed the city’s top performing arts companies such as the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, as well as had the pleasure of hosting a wide range of events, from TV concerts and popular game shows like Wheel of Fortune right through to industry legends. The Benedum Center’s iconic history has seen none other than Prince kicking off his Controversy Tour there (1981), an epic performance by the Grateful Dead (1979), Bob Marley & The Wailers’ historic last show (1980), and the 50th celebration of the rock powerhouse Kansas (2023).

But that’s not all! The theater was also the star of “Live Forever: September 23, 1980”. Released in February 2011, this was a live album by Bob Marley & The Wailers’ last performance that was recorded at the Stanley Theatre during the Uprising Tour. If that isn’t enough, the venue even made it onto the silver screen during HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, hosting a tap dancing act during its season 4 premiere. It also featured in the 2006 mockumentary film “Pittsburgh,” directed by Jeff Goldblum, which followed his involvement in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production of The Music Man.

In 1997, the global sensation Bruce Springsteen ignited the venue with the megahit Born in the U.S.A., meanwhile legendary acts like Mariah Carey, Hozier, Kansas, The Beach Boys, 2Chainz, Chris Rock, and Dolly Parton made history on the stage at the turn of the millennium.

Benedum Center

Broadway Shows

The Center now hosts some of the biggest and best Broadway shows in the world including:

Phantom of the Opera
Singing In The Rain

These are just some of the shows at the Benedum Center, for complete listings on events head on over to the events or tickets pages.