Known sometimes by an earlier name, the "Riverside Studio," the Spotlight Theater is an internationally known building designed by Bruce Goff during his formative years as an architect. It is considered a masterpiece of 20th Century American architecture and an irreplaceable part of Tulsa’s rich architectural history.
The Riverside Studio was designed and built in 1928/29 for Patti Adams Shriner, a trained musician and music teacher, who maintained several music studios in Tulsa. The building was originally designed to serve as a music studio/recital hall for her students and a separate, but connected, private residence for her.
According to the documented history, Ms. Shriner was forced to give up her studio in 1933. Various banks owned the building until Richard Mansfield Dickinson, an actor, purchased it in 1941. He used the building as a residence and speech-drama studio. According to the Tulsa Spotlight Theater website:
“In 1953, Dickinson and a small group of performers known as the Tulsa Spotlight Club gave their first performance of The Drunkard. Since that performance, the troupe has performed the melodrama and olio each Saturday night in what is now known as The Spotlight Theatre”. They also report that The Drunkard is one of the longest running theater productions in the country and “one of the few places in town where you’re encouraged to boo the bad guys and cheer the good guys as the story unfolds on the stage."
The Riverside Studio/Tulsa Spotlight Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, in part, for its recognition as a highly personalized Bruce Goff original. The building is also known throughout the world and has been published countless times. PreservationOK, an organization dedicated to saving historic structures, recently added the building to its 2015 list of "Most Endangered Historic Places."
On Saturday nights the Tulsa Spotlight Theatre still stages The Drunkard, a hilarious melodrama. The family-friendly evening includes a variety show called The Olio and an audience sing-along of old-time tunes. Seating is cafe-style. Food and beverages may be ordered. Doors open at 7 pm. The show ends around 10 pm.