Friends of the Victory is a not for profit 501(c)3 arts organization dedicated to preserve, restore, and maintain the historical and architectural beauty of the Victory Theatre as well as provide tools to enhance the quality of artistic, cultural, and social experiences afforded there.
The interior of the building is far more extravagant than the exterior. Whereas the exterior is not that eye-catching, the interior has an opulence similar to that of a restrained Baroque style. The auditorium is 108 feet long by 91 feet wide and comfortably seats 2,500 people. The stage is 68 feet wide and 82 feet deep. It is notably one of the largest in the Midwest.
The architect, Pridmore, had recently traveled throughout Europe. He based the interior, including color schemes, on the playhouses in Southern Italy. The main color scheme he used was blue and gold and it was continued throughout the decorative elements of the theater. The lofty ceiling was gold, with huge blue and gold oriental bowls, which produced subdued lighting effects. The colors were continued down the side walls toward the stage in painted tapestries. From the side walls, the color scheme again moves closer to the focal point (the stage) in gigantic gold-leafed columns which frame the stage.
The columns on either side of the stage display elements of the Greeks orders, Ionic and Corinthian. They each have four Ionic scrolls and acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order. Combining elements from different orders makes these columns composite. Atop each column, on the center cap, rests the Roman motif of an eagle.
The most notable element of the theater is the proscenium arch, which frames the stage. Draping from the arch was a rich blue velvet curtain, which creates a high contrast with the gold-leaf on the arch. The decorative detailed elements of the arch include various fruits and vegetables. The function of the proscenium arch is not only decorative but also key to the structural integrity of the building. Weighing approximately 45 tons, it acts as a girder supporting the portion of the building’s roof directly above the stage.
Two golden grills were used to disguise the organ pipes, on either side of the proscenium arch. The $10,000 organ sat stage-right (audience left). During the playing of the organ music, the grills were used in combination to produce strange lighting effects of different colors.
The victory offered four vaudeville acts, a movie, a comedy routine, organ music, and a ten-piece orchestra. Five years after the Victory Theater’s opening, it was leased to the Loew’s Incorporated movie chain, distributor for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios, and became the Loew’s Victory. In 1928 the Loew’s Victory showed Evansville’s first “talking picture,” Tenderloin.
The theater remained the Loew’s Victory until 1971 when it was sold to Paul Stieler and Joe Koewler. Eventually, Joe Koewler became the sole owner. During this period of its history, the balcony was split to hold two screens. The Victory remained a movie house until 1979. It later served time as a teenage nightclub.
In 1998 it was restored for use as a multi-purpose entertainment facility. The refurbished Victory Theater has state of the art lighting and sound equipment with heating and air conditioning and a new elevator. The theater provides a seating capacity of 1,900. A five-story Performing Arts Center adjoins the theater itself.
The only piece of this historic theatre that has not been replaced is the beautifully lit and ornate marquee topped with an eagle with cascading lights. Friends of the Victory is dedicated to raising the funds to replicate and install this beautiful sign that will brand the Victory as the historical theatre that it is.