Poncan Theatre, The
104 E. Grand
Ponca City, OK
Box Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 1pm - 5pm
The Poncan was state of the art when her doors were opened in 1927. She was a new kind of theatre called a Vaud-film theatre, since she catered to both live entertainment and silent films. Vaudeville was at its peak in 1927, with great entertainers traveling by rail to perform across the country. Silent films were at their peak in 1927 too. That's the year Al Jolson made film history with the first "talkie", “The Jazz Singer.”
The Poncan was soon converted to show "talkies" and she continued showing both films and the best of vaudeville.
From the beginning, illustrious entertainers appeared live in the Poncan. Names like Bo Jangles, Sally Rand, Will Rogers and Ethel Barrymore lit up the marquee here in Ponca City. Audiences often filled the Poncan for two shows a day to see great vaudevillians. Vaudeville was “variety,” which meant a show with comedians, singers, “hoofers,” “black face,” jugglers, animal acts and others. It was the face of American entertainment.
But several factors, notably the Depression, the war and television, changed the face of entertainment and changed the Poncan with it. In the 1940s, the Poncan turned exclusively to the film industry. Many patrons recall the glow of youth, watching movies from the balcony. They remember “Gone With the Wind,” “The Ten Commandments,” “Singing in the Rain,” “The Sound of Music,” and many others. The theatre was redecorated and revitalized. But changing tastes made hard times for vintage theatres.
Shortly after closing her doors in 1985 a vision emerged and the citizens of Ponca City began work to resurrect the Grand Lady to her once held glory as the center for the performing arts and entertainment in the area. Through the generous purchase of the theatre by Enloe and Wanda Baumert and their donation of it to the Poncan Theatre Company, the community work began. Fund raising and contributions of time and talent eventually saw the grandeur return.
In 1994 the Poncan doors swung open once again, renewing fond memories of afternoons or evenings spent in the Theatre.
Today, the Poncan once again holds an esteemed place in the cultural life of Ponca City.