The 10 Best Historic Theaters in New Mexico!

The history of theater runs deep, and in New Mexico, you’ll find lavish buildings that have been an important part of the state’s culture for decades—some even a century. These beautiful theaters represent an era of architecture and culture. With these iconic spaces being maintained, restored, and renovated, you can still catch live performances in them today. Here are 10 incredible historic theaters in New Mexico. 

1. Engine House Theatre, Madrid, NM

Coal mining dominated this town for more than 100 years. When mining stopped, the town regrouped and is now a hotspot on the Turquoise Trail. The theater, housed in train engine repair shed from the 1900s, seats about 135 people who can cheer and boo at the actors in the old-time melodramas that take place in summertime. There’s a full-size steam engine on stage, old maintenance pits along the aisles, soot and steam stains on the roof and a balcony made from railroad tracks.

2. Silco Theatre, Silver City, NM

Silver and copper mining helped establish the town in its earliest days. The name SilCo pays homage to that history. This theater went through a number of transformations—movies, furniture store, mini-mall, boutique—until it was refurbished and reopened in 2006 as a movie theater and facility for events and meetings. It has a one screen, 156-seat all digital movie screening room and a lot of small-town charm.

3. Flickinger Center for Performing Arts, Alamogordo, NM

This 1950s-style movie theater, operated by Frontier Theatres, was originally named the Sierra Theater and boasted a 17-by-38-foot screen. In the 1980s, it was purchased by a local resident, Margaret Flickinger, who donated it to what is now known as the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts organization. Now, this refurbished 600-seat theater offers a variety of entertainment from concerts to plays and musicals to dance recitals by both professional and amateur groups and is a performing arts anchor for the downtown.

5th show coming up #flickinger #mariachichristmas #bfutrgv

A post shared by Anthony (@anthonyo._) on

4. Luna Theater, Clayton, NM

In 2009, the town purchased this historic theater, a source of community pride and a popular landmark. Originally built in 1915 as the Mission Theater, it changed hands and was renamed the Luna Theater in the 1930s. Because of its mission/Spanish revival and Art Deco-style architectural components, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. At one time, the basement was a ballroom and roller rink. Now, the building is a legendary venue for movies, with updated digital projection and surround sound. The winking, smiling moon face on the marquee is a delightful, working blast-from-the-past.

5. El Morro Theatre, Gallup, NM

Billed as a “castle of pleasure and art” in 1928 when it opened, this Carl Boller designed building with its Spanish Colonial-style exterior was restored in 1991 and is now used for film exhibition and performing arts. The 450-seat theatre, which shows popular movies, is outfitted with Dolby Digital Sound and a high-end Christie Digital projector. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the movie heydays of the 1940s and 50s when going to the movies was an event. Lots of fresh popcorn, hotdogs and comfortable seats.

6. Lea Theatre, Lovington, NM

In 1948 when this theatre was built, the simple, clean, straightforward look of Art Deco-style was immensely popular. The architecture of this theatre, with its ceramic tile facade and triangular marquee, captures that style. In 2007, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, audience goers watch current and popular movies in the state-of-the-art digital display and sound 400-seat theatre. Once inside, don’t miss the Plains Indians and cowboy murals by local artist Albert Perea.

7. Shuler Theater, Raton, NM

This more than 100-year-old theater was built at the turn of the 19th century as a place for opera, live theatrical performances and concerts. Today, its original purpose lives on, continuing to showcase live plays, drama, comedies, musical theater and concerts for all ages for the local community. Renovated in the 1960s, the interior has some beautiful remnants from its earliest days including three original drop curtains depicting beautiful scenery, an original restored box seating area and eight WPA (Work Progress Administration) murals by artist Manville Chapman from the 1930s showcasing Raton in the 1840s. This beautiful building is a Registered Cultural Property in New Mexico.

Shuler Theater in Raton, NM

A post shared by Carl Lundgren (@carllundgrenmusic) on

8. Odeon Theater, Tucumcari, NM

The definition of “odeon” to the ancient Greeks and Romans was a place for musical performances. While those types of activities didn’t take place at this Art Deco-style theater built in 1936, the name sent a message about entertainment. The theater is now the oldest remaining movie theater in downtown, still showing first-run Hollywood movies, just like at the height of its popularity. The small theater seats 270 and has been updated with the latest digital and audio technology. In 2007, it was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places.

A post shared by Whiskey (@whiskeyoninstagram) on

9. The El Rey Theater, Albuquerque, NM

Known as the Puccini Building, this historic theater is the setting for what could be considered a modern-day opera. It’s named for Luigi Puccini, cousin of the famed 1920s opera composer Giacomo Puccini. Luigi’s future wife thought she was going to meet the famous composer, but instead, upon meeting Luigi, fell in love with him. They built the El Rey as a movie theater in the 1940s. It’s been in the family, off and on, since then. Now, as a Registered Historic building, this lovely example of Mediterranean architecture, the only one in the state, is a cornerstone of downtown as a live music and concert venue.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ElReyTheater (@elreytheater) on

10. The Cavern Theatre, Carlsbad, NM

The Cavern, with the help of the local community, has undertaken a complete renovation of this unique local downtown building, with the intent of transforming it into a multi-purpose performing arts venue. It was built in 1951 and is an excellent example of the modernistic International Style of architecture popular in the 1950s. Its movie era ended in the 1990s and has been used sporadically throughout the years for musical performances and other events. The Cavern is well down the path to a successful completion of this project and does off-and-on utilize it for fundraising efforts.

Cavern Theatre - Carlsbad NM

A post shared by Stu Johnson (@whatafarce) on

New Mexico Search
View more New Mexico Theaters and Playhouses.
Visit a Theater or Playhouse Near You
Find Theaters and Playhouses Near You
PO Box 1233, Artesia, NM
The Artesia Community Theatre (ACT), a self-supporting division of the Artesia Arts Council, Inc. is endeavoring to bring various types of theatre ... Read More
PO Box 1697, Cedar Crest, NM
Mission:The mission of the East Mountain Centre for Theatre is to entertain, inform, educate, inspire, nurture, challenge and empower artists and a... Read More
1717 South Union Avenue, Roswell, NM
Mission: The Roswell Community Little Theatre is a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the production and presentation of live theate... Read More
108 Spencer Road, Alto, NM
Mission: The mission of the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts is to enrich the cultural lives of South-Central New Mexico's residents and vi... Read More
700-708 First Street Northwest, Albuquerque, NM
Mission  FUSION incites global empathy through storytelling, positively impacting the human race.  We are dedicated to professional exce... Read More
2710 Sudderth Ruidoso, Ruidoso, NM
Phyllis A. Strathmann, nicknamed "Mountain Annie" by her father many years ago because of her love of the little village town of Ruidoso, New Mexic... Read More
6913 Natalie North East, Albuquerque, NM
FRONT DESK HOURS Mondays         4:15-7:45pm Tuesdays         4:00-6:30pm Wednesdays    4:00-7... Read More
13170-B Central South East, suite 130, Albuquerque, NM
About Us:Once Upon A Theatre, a non-profit New Mexico corporation, is a touring theatre company dedicated to improving the education of children in... Read More
210 Yale Boulevard South East, Albuquerque, NM
About Us : Outpost Productions has been a non-profit arts organization since 1988. Since 1990, we've made our home at the Outpost Performance Space... Read More
1500 South Second Street Suite Four, Gallup, NM
The Gallup Performing Arts Center is more than a performance space, educational center, and festival committee. GPAC is the heartbeat of the commun... Read More
131 N. 2nd Street, Raton, NM
A History of the Shuler Theater Officially opening April 27, 1915, the Shuler Theater was cause enough to send city commissioners fleeing over ... Read More
P.O. Box 4751, Albuquerque, NM
Mission Statement : Theatre-in-the-Making is dedicated to the idea that creative and joyful artistry has the power to change the lives of indivi... Read More
110 Gold Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM
Mission: Tricklock Company is an international theatre organization founded in 1993 whose mission is to create, tour and produce theatrical perfor... Read More
2900 Carlisle Blvd NorthEast, Albuquerque, NM
About The Vortex : The Vortex Theatre is a venue for classic, contemporary and cutting edge theatre. Our audiences can enjoy wonderful works for ... Read More
1670 Nectar Street, Los Alamos, NM
About Us: Los Alamos Little Theatre (LALT) is a not for profit 501(c)(3) community theater group.  We were founded in 1943 and have been cont... Read More
110 Abeyta Avenue West, Socorro, NM
About Us: The Socorro Community Theater, Inc. made its debut with "Macbeth" in the spring of 1994. Since that time SCT, an all volunteer organizat... Read More
9813 Fourth Street NorthWest, Albuquerque, NM
About Us: In 1957 the people of Corrales NM got together to create a Community Theater, and named it The ADOBE Theater. They acted, directed, hamme... Read More
423 Central Avenue NorthWest, Albuquerque, NM
History: The KiMo Theatre, a Pueblo Deco picture palace, opened on September 19, 1927. Pueblo Deco was a flamboyant, short-lived architectural styl... Read More
622 Central Avenue SouthWest, Albuquerque, NM
About Us: During its early years, the El Rey Theater was a popular movie theater, and also featured "The Hanger" restaurant, as well as several po... Read More
535 Cerrillos Road, Suite A2, Santa Fe, NM
TG creates a new kind of performance that is visual, explosive and full of surprise. The Grottesco Ensemble rekindles interest in live performance ... Read More
Show More
Select a New Mexico town to find
the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you
Los Alamos County