It was called a "Milestone in City Progress" in the Utica Observer Dispatch on Monday, September 10, 1928; that was the day Utica's Stanley Theatre, a Mexican Baroque movie house officially opened. Delores Del Rio and the Ramon A Orchestra were billed as the inaugural performance and on that day, The Stanley Theatre launched an amazing journey that brings us to this week, as this community celebrates 90 years.

The now iconic landmark,  was considered a technological advance back in 1928, boasting a new air circulation system which "made everyday a good day" according to another story from the Observer Dispatch, which claimed to keep the climate inside the theatre comfortable no matter what the weather was like outside. Today, that antiquated system (part of which you can see in what looks like a round disc under several seats in the theatre) is long-gone with a new heating and cooling system in place, along with a completely expanded and modernized facility that hosts larger shows and events, all in the shadows of a brand-new digital marquee that adds a 21st century glitz to downtown. It took more than $5 million to erect the building back in 1928, faced demolition in the 1970's, and a game-changing $20 million revitalization in 2006, which brought the facility to where it is today, one of America's treasured theaters.

On Friday, hundreds of locals will gather for a 90th birthday party, "A Night of Stars" to raise money for The Stanley.  "It takes more than shows to keep this theatre going," said Jackie Romano, who's on the committee for the 90th gala celebration. "We have to hold fund raising events like these to keep it going."

Today, the theatre is new and improved with a much larger stage and loading dock to accommodate bigger music and broadway shows and a new two story addition that serves as a smaller venue on its own. Every part of The Stanley will be utilized for this Friday's gala with entertainment throughout. Music, comedy, food and drink are just part of the event, with the band Classified headlining.  Other entertainment includes Rob "Swank" Swenszkowski, the wonderful Opus Black String Quartet, Sound Investment DJ- Alan Allen and local youth comedian, Owen Murphy.

Maria Alberico-Brindisi and Jackie Romano are the event chairpersons and Senator Joe Griffo is the honorary chair.

Tickets to The Stanley’s 90th Anniversary Gala are $75.00 each, with all proceeds benefiting the operation of The Stanley.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (315) 724-4000 or visiting The Stanley Box Office. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  There will also be valet parking.

Listen to an interview describing the event here: