About Us

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 About Us

The Carlsbad Village Theatre has been owned and operated  since 1993 as a multi-purpose entertainment venue by Carlsbad residents, Tom & Judy McMahon.

…. “Our goal is to provide the unique amenities of the historic Carlsbad Village Theatre as a venue for local residents and visitors to enjoy a broad scope of contemporary entertainment choices.” ….

The Theatre’s rich history of uses has ranged from the original black & white silent movies and vaudeville shows in 1927, to it’s variety of contemporary multi-purpose entertainment uses today, such as:

Live Stage Performances

( Concerts – Dance – Standup Comedy & Plays )

Cinema Screen Presentations

( Film Festivals – Sports, Indie  & Documentary Films),

Business & Education Seminars

( Large Screen Video, PowerPoint & Web Site presentations together with live interactive streaming video broadcasts),

Private Corporate and Public Civic Meetings & Community Events

(Guest Speakers, Sales Meetings, Employee Training and Topics of Public Interest) ,

Religious Outreach &  Holiday Services

(Religious Film Screenings and Festive Holiday Events),

Prospective Theatre renters: event producers, corporations, private entities, and other interested parties are encouraged to visit our web site’s “Theatre Rental Section” herein, for a more particular description and photo galleries of the Theatre’s contemporary amenities and its multi-purpose entertainment capability. Interested parties may also visit our “Prior Event Section” herein, for a summary of our event rental history by performance categories.

 A major renovation was completed in 2000 that included a new: cinema screen, stage, carpet, drapes, projection booth and an upgrade to the electrical power/distribution service together with a comprehensive upgrade to the audio equipment, cinema projection equipment  and stage lighting fixtures. The foregoing AV Tech amenities have been upgraded annually to keep pace with current technology and the needs of our contemporary event producers.


History Plaque (located near entrance to Theatre) …

The Carlsbad Theatre

The Carlsbad Theatre had its grand opening on February 8th, 1927 with the showing of the film “It”, starring Clara Bow. Mr. A. J. Clark, the developer and manager, hosted the ceremonies. The Theatre featured a full stage, fly gallery, orchestra pit, pipe organ, and flyable movie screen. The original cost was $40,000. In 1939 it was renamed the “Iris Theatre” and in 1943 it was known as the “Sylvia Theatre”. The Samuels family owned and operated the Theatre from 1946 to 1961, known then as the “Carlsbad Theatre”. The Donald C. Dunham family purchased the Theatre in 1961 and showed movies until the late 80′s. Renovated in 1999, The Carlsbad Village Theatre serves the community as a multi-purpose entertainment venue for live stage and music performances, group meetings and large cinema screen presentations.

Courtesy of the Carlsbad Historical Preservation Commission


“The Carlsbad Village Theatre” – Historic  Summary

 The Carlsbad Theatre was built by the Roy      E. Struve Construction Company in 1927 at a cost of $40,000.  The      Oceanside      Blade, January 27th, 1927…. “Mr. Struve is using reinforced      concrete columns with curtain walls of tile.  A special design of steel roof trusses      was used to provide the concave ceiling”…. “The Carlsbad Theatre is      perfectly appointed as to acoustics, comfort and beauty, and is      distinctive in the fact that it is, we believe, the finest house ever      built in a town the size of Carlsbad”…. The Theatre’s design      features included: a full stage, fly gallery, orchestra pit, pipe organ,      600 seats and a flyable movie screen.

 The Grand Opening was on February 8th,      1927.   The opening show titled “It”, a silent film starred Clara Bow, one of Hollywood’s first sex symbols.  Mr. A. J. Clark, the developer      and manager of the Theatre, hosted the ceremonies.  An opening night ticket was 50      cents. 

In 1928, Silent films were replaced by “Talkies” and Clara Bow’s career faded quickly; ……   can anyone remember why?

 In  1939, the Carlsbad Theatre was renamed the “Iris      Theatre” and in 1943, the theatre      was renamed again to the “Sylvia       Theatre”.  In 1946, Joseph F. & Cecil E. Samuels      purchased the theatre and resurrected the original name “Carlsbad Theatre”.  The Samuels (aka Ces and Dode) exhibited      films continuously through the movie industry’s popular post-war period.

 In  August 1961, Donald C. & Alice Dunham purchased the Theatre  and continued to exhibit American & Spanish films movies through late 1986.

In December 1986, Raymond & Celestine Normandin purchased the Theatre and      pursued a public / private renovation plan with the City of Carlsbad.  Mr. Normandin’s renovation plans were negatively   impacted by the high cost estimates to comply with the City of Carlsbad’s “Unreinforced Masonry  Building Ordinance” and  defaulted on his Purchase Money Note to the Dunham’s in mid 1993. 

In late 1993, Mrs. Dunham reacquired the Theatre via foreclosure. 

In early 1995, the City of Carlsbad      issued a permit to The Dunham Family Trust (Tom & Judy McMahon,      co-trustees) for the Hazardous Reduction Work (seismic retrofit work) required      pursuant to the City’s “Unreinforced       Masonry Building”      ordinance.   The foregoing seismic retrofit work was      completed by The Dunham Family Trust in mid 1995 with its private funds!

 In early 2000, a major renovation and tenant improvement work was completed      by Tom & Judy McMahon and Mr. Marshall NaifyThe major renovation and tenant improvements work included; a new cinema screen, audio system,  projection booth & equipment, theatre lighting, increased electrical capacity,      expanded electrical distribution system together with a new title curtain,      drapes and carpet.   Mr. Naify passed-away unexpectedly in      early 2000 and Tom & Judy McMahon continued their ownership and      operations management responsibilities of the Theatre.

 In   2016, The Carlsbad Village Theatre continues to serve the San Diego County      community as a multi-purpose entertainment event venue for a broad scope      of contemporary entertainment uses, including:   live stage performances (concerts, musicals, plays & standup comedy),      cinema presentations (film festivals, indie & documentary films),      business & education seminars (with cinema screen PowerPoint media      presentations), Religious Holiday events, and Motivational Public Speaking  presentations.  

 Thank  you for your support:  Tom &      Judy McMahon,  Carlsbad Village  Theatre,  February 27th,  2016



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