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FRONT ROW THEATER

The FRONT ROW THEATER, built at an approximate cost of $3 million, was completed in 1974 and opened on July 5 of that year. It was located in HIGHLAND HTS. on Wilson Mills Road near I-271. Richard R. Jencen, who lived in SHAKER HTS., designed the Front Row. The first all-weather theater to be built in Greater Cleveland since the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE in 1927, it seated 3,200 and was approximately 300 feet by 270 feet. Since it was a theater in the round, the last row was fifty-nine feet from the stage, which was twenty-nine feet in diameter with its orchestra pit. A circular curtain concealed the stage lighting, and the entire stage slowly revolved during each performance in order to provide a clear view for all the spectators. Also, the circular domed auditorium had no pillars to block spectators' views. The theater had three concession stands, including an elegant champagne bar, and featured such Las Vegas-style attractions as Sammy Davis, Jr., Wayne Newton, Liberace, and Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme. The original five owners of the Front Row were Nate and Mollie Dolin of Bratenahl, Dominic Visconsi of CHAGRIN FALLS, Lawrence S. Dolin of BEACHWOOD, and Len Luxenberg. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roy Orbison performed his last concert at the theater on Dec 4, 1988. After nineteen years of operation, President Lawrence Dolin announced that the Front Row would close in July 1993, with its bookings devolving on PLAYHOUSE SQUARE Center in downtown Cleveland.