The historic Balboa Theatre originally opened in 1924 as a vaudeville house. It served as a site for live entertainment until it was remodeled and reopened in 1934 as Teatro Balboa, featuring contemporary films from Mexico City and presenting Latin stars to San Diego's increasingly diverse population. In 1959, the Russo family acquired the historic building saving it from potential demolition and then operated it as an action movie house until 1985 when it was acquired and closed by the City's Redevelopment Agency. After numerous attempts for private development, the Agency committed in 2002 to retain the Balboa Theatre as a community asset and invest the funds required for its renovation and restoration. The Balboa Theatre reopened in January 2008. It has become the performing home for the nationally recognized Mainly Mozart Summer Festival and the locally treasured Classics 4 Kids. California Ballet has expanded its collaborations at the Balboa, and the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus has produced numerous concert celebrations. Broadway/San Diego has found the Balboa to be perfect for its more intimate productions. San Diego Theatres is a 501(c)3 non-profit, public benefit corporation established to manage and operate publicly-owned performing arts theatres. We are responsible for the management, marketing, operations and maintenance of the San Diego Civic Theatre under the terms of an operating agreement with the City of San Diego. Additionally, San Diego Theatres has assumed the same responsibility for the historic Balboa Theatre in the Gaslamp Quarter under the terms of a long-term lease with the City of San Diego's Redevelopment Agency. San Diego Theatres strives to positively impact the community through facility enhancement projects, the advancement of a downtown theatre district, and strategic partnerships for the enrichment of the performing arts for the benefit of the region.
The Balboa Theatre has been honored to be the site of the City of San Diego's annual State of the City Address and Cox Communication's Salute to Teachers Awards. It is a frequent performance venue of choice for non-profit organizations such as Classics 4 Kids (School & Family Concerts), the Mainly Mozart Festival, La Jolla Music Society, California Ballet, UCSD ArtPower!, San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, San Diego Chorus of Sweet Adelines and San Diego Symphony. Ballet, Broadway touring shows (Stomp, Spring Awakening, Rain: The Beatles Experience and more), concerts, comedy acts, symphony and chamber music concerts, dance, one-person shows and holiday specials are all just a part of the continuing events held at this historic venue. Performers who have appeared on the Balboa Theatre stage include: Hal Holbrook (Mark Twain Tonight!), Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Merle Haggard, Peter Frampton, Midori, The Irish Rovers, Betty Buckley, B.B. King, Joan Rivers, Tibetan Monks, Jungle Jack Hanna, Dave Koz, Kenny G, The Wiggles, Straight No Chaser, David Garrett, Jake Shimabukuro, Anjelah Johnson, Willie Nelson, Fresh Beat Band, Bobby McFerrin, Chris Cornell, Herb Alpert & Lani Hall, k.d. lang, Pink Martini, Howie Mandel, Ryan Adams, Herbie Hancock, Ethan Bortnick, David Sedaris, w00tstock and many, many more!