Phoenix Theatre Company Entryway Officially Named After Steven Spielberg

By Kaely Monahan, Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 12:45pm

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temporary sign on the entrance
The Phoenix Theatre Company
A temporary version of the sign at the entryway to the Phoenix Theatre Company.

It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg has Phoenix roots. His first feature-length movie, "Firelight" — a film which allegedly inspired "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" — premiered at the Phoenix Theatre Company’s Mainstage in 1964.

In those days the Spielbergs lived on 49th Street, south of Indian School. The soon-to-be movie legend worked with the props department at the theater. 

"He filled the theater. He got 500 — it was standing room only — you got 500 people in the theater, made $501, he sold it for one dollar a ticket, someone gave him a donation I guess," said Laurie Lemley, the director of special projects at the theater. "And that was the first of a successful movie career."

In 2013, the theater had added its third stage. Spielberg was in Phoenix at the time and stopped by the theater with his daughter to see where it all began.

"He had heard that we had done this major renovation so he was curious what it looked like," Lemley said. "So he came back and he walked the mainstage for the first time since he was a kid, and he was visibly moved by it. And we decided at that moment that we wanted to name something in his honor."

And that something ended up being a bright red-orange facade that brackets the walkway which leads to the theater and the Phoenix Art Museum. While the new entryway was approved by the Phoenix City Council several months ago, it was only last week that the official name change for the entryway was approved.

Now the Steven Spielberg Entrance will be a permanent fixture and may inspire the next movie legend.

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