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Spotlight Theatre

1381 Riverside Drive
Tulsa, OK 74127

Office: (918) 587-5030
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Website:www.spotlighttheatre.org

Expertise: The 1920s were more than flappers and bath tub gin. The growth and prosperity of that decade were noted not only by a building boom in Tulsa, but a flourishing of the arts. Patti Adams Shriner was a musician and teacher who received her training in the United States and Europe. She was also a scholarship pupil of the world renowned Maurice Moszkowski. Like her fellow artist (and designer of the Boston Avenue Church), Adah Robinson, Patti decided to build a residence to reflect her profession. The result was a combination studio and recital hall for her music students. Like Robinson, Patti selected Bruce Goff to be her architect. The Riverside Studio, as it was called, was built at 1381 Riverside Drive on a magnificent site overlooking the Arkansas River. The Art Deco structure is similar to the Robinson studio in both plan and material. The high ceiling lobby is reminiscent of the living room studio in the Robinson home. The stage acts as a link between the studio and residence, and the kitchen and dining facilities served both residential and studio functions. The front elevation is dominated by an enormous round window patterned with sand-blasted designs. On each side of this window there are smaller rectangular windows connected by black glass inserts to form a diagonal pattern. It has been suggested that these windows resemble the black keys on a piano keyboard. The interior walls of the recital hall were once lined with murals representing the various forms of music. The series of nine murals were painted by Olinka Hrdy, a talented artist of Czechoslovakian and Native American heritage. Goff suggested the murals. one of the first adventures in abstract decoration in Tulsa, and recommended Hrdy to execute them. The result, however, was a contest of wills between two strong willed prima donnas. Though she had approved their selection, Patti hated the colors as they were applied. A confrontation resulted with the piano teacher accusing the painter of ruining her studio by using green on the walIs, the color of jealousy and envy, and red, the color of passion and hate. The painter replied, "There is only one color you should use." "What is that," said Patti. "White," declared Olinka, "white is the color of insanity," Olinka had the last laugh on her "patron." The classical piano teacher had been most adamant about not including any reference in the murals to the increasingly popular music of jazz. One of Htdy's abstract murals was made up of small triangles of different colors which, when photographed in black and white, spelled out JAZZ. Eventually, Patti Adams Shriner was forced to give up her studio in 1933 and various lending institutions maintained possession until 1941 when Richard Mansfield Dickinson, a former New York City actor, purchased the property. He used the building as a residence and speech-drama studio. In 1953, Dickinson and a small group of performers known as the Tulsa Spotlighters, gave their first performance of The Drunkard. Since that performance, the troup has performed the melodrama and olio each Saturday night in what is now known as The Spotlight Theatre.

 
 
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