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Historic Rialto theater gets a makeover

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Venue slated to open January 2018


Renovations to the historic Rialto theater in downtown Bozeman are nearing completion with the venue scheduled to open in January 2018 with a lineup of top-tier musical talent from around the country.

Originally built in 1908 as a two-story storefront and converted into a theater in 1924, the Rialto has a long history of importance to Main Street in Bozeman’s central commercial district although it has been vacant for more than a decade.

Bozeman’s ThinkTank Design Group, along with general contractor North Fork Builders, is refashioning the vacant theater to reclaim its past incarnation as an artistic and cultural hub in the community. Honoring the Rialto’s historical relevance, iconic features will be replicated, such as the art deco–style marquee and signage at the front of the building, designed by local artist and metal sculptor Erik “Ole” Nelson of Media Station.

“We are excited to revive an underutilized remnant of our history that brings culture and inspiration to the city,” said Brian Caldwell, project architect at ThinkTank. “It’s an iconic theater that will become a modern and creative outlet for local and traveling artists, with an entirely new design that reflects the imaginative spirit of Bozeman.”

The reinvented venue will include a ground-floor theater called the Black Box, which will accommodate up to 400 people and feature a mezzanine level, offering a variety of options for artists, live performances and private events.

The theater acoustics and sound system were designed by the award-winning consulting firm Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc. Theater programming will range from some of the country’s most sought-after bands to local musicians, spoken-word performances, movie nights and more.

The second floor will house the Burn Box, a stylish space overlooking Main Street that will serve wine, beer and a rotating menu from local chefs and food artisans, crafted around the aesthetic of that evening’s entertainment. The Burn Box will be open to the general public, as well as ticket holders, on days of scheduled programming.

Adjacent to the Burn Box will be the Light Box, a gallery that will showcase the work of local artists, host special events for the community and serve as an additional space for private events for 15 to 150 people.

“We are creating a vibrant, one-of-a-kind hub where people can experience Bozeman’s evolving culture,” said Productions and Operations Manager Drew Fleming. “The Rialto will attract exceptional and unique acts, artists and audiences, becoming a place where artistry truly thrives.”

The theater is slated to reopen with an all-ages show on Jan. 16, 2018, by indie rock band Hippo Campus. The Victor Wooten Trio will take the stage on Jan. 17, followed by Car Seat Headrest on Jan. 26 and musician-comedian Reggie Watts on Jan. 27.

Visit for more information and a complete list of upcoming programming.

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