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Atlantic City’s famous Warner Theatre is set to be resurrected by live entertainment production company Spiegelworld. The brand was the force behind several awe-inspiring shows, including Caesars Palace’s Las Vegas venue ‘Absinthe’, which features an exciting mix of burlesque, adult circus, and vaudeville.
Spiegelworld announced the new project — dubbed ‘The Hook’ — on Tuesday and revealed that it would be located on the site of the iconic Warner Theatre on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The project will be open to the public at Caesars Atlantic City in June 2023 as the only permanent live entertainment destination in the city.
The “impresario extraordinaire” of Spiegelworld, Ross Mollison, revealed that the company had wanted to move down to Atlantic City for some time and was delighted by the opportunity provided by Caesars.
“A decade ago, we came to Vegas and did things differently in live entertainment. Now we’re incredibly excited that our pals at Caesars have given us this opportunity to bring our party to the playground of potential that is Atlantic City,” Mollison said.
“Millions have moved to the Jersey shoreline, and there is nothing to do other than drive to New York with the flock of tourists. Forget it. Come to AC. We see beauty. We see brashness.
“We see the charm and history of the boardwalk. Experience a show that can be seen nowhere else in the world. Have an incredible cocktail. Have an incredible meal. Get caught on The Hook.”
Mollison added that Spiegelworld intended to create a permanent show mainly for Atlantic City. It would consist of a restaurant as well as several bars and be “right on the boardwalk, the most exciting location”.
Olivier Award-nominated director Cal McCrystal will direct The Hook. He is famous for his work on projects like ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ and the ‘Paddington’ films. The project is the aftermath of a collaboration between Spiegelworld and Caesars Entertainment first announced last year. It involved an investment of almost $75 million to provide new entertainment experiences in the casino operator’s properties in Atlantic City, New Orleans, and Las Vegas.
The Warner Theater is included in the project, and according to reports, Caesars has committed $400 million as part of the deal to aid in the renovation of its subsidiaries in Atlantic City. The remodeling includes the east coast’s first Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, the region’s first Nobu hotel and restaurant project, and more than 700 new rooms and suites. There will also be a breathtaking rooftop pool experience providing a view across the Atlantic Ocean and more.
“I think the time is right. When you’re involved in a re-imagining of a place like Atlantic City, which Caesars are undertaking now … it’s a bit like catching a wave. And you just (wonder), ‘Have I paddled too early? Have I paddled too late?’” Mollison said.
“You just want to get in that sweet spot, and it feels to me, for a whole variety of reasons, that (the) sweet spot is there, that Atlantic City is going to see a resurgence in the coming years.”
According to Mollison, the project would see that the current Warner Theater façade and the restaurants and bars in the venue would be “fully integrated.”
“I create spaces with energy, that’s my job, and I want to create it for as broad a demographic as possible,” he explained.
“There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing a bunch of 20-year-old kids sitting next to some 80-year-old ladies watching our show together. And the kids are kind of going, ‘Holy [expletive], what is this?’ And maybe the ladies are going, ‘This reminds me of vaudeville’ or something. They’re both equally into it and getting something out of it.”
The Hook will operate every week of the year and provide a fun palace where adults can watch world premiere live shows consisting of an international cast in a 400-seat theater. The location will also have Spiegelworld’s famous Italian-American restaurant and, according to a press release, “a myriad of discoverable bars with an elevated cocktail program curated by award-winning mixologists.”
Anthony Carano, the president of Caesars Entertainment, recently commented on Spiegelworld’s efforts on Absinthe and revealed it was the reason Mollison was contracted for the Caesars Atlantic City project.
“We love what Spiegelworld has created with Absinthe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, so as we were thinking about how we could bring more energy to Caesars Atlantic City, we immediately thought of Ross. We are excited to see what his daring and innovative team has in store for Caesars Atlantic City with The Hook and Superfrico,” Carano said.
Warner’s Embassy Theatre was built on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1929 and, at the time cost $2.7 million. The 4,300-seat theater was named the ‘Wonder Theatre of the World’ and grew to become the east coast mecca for entertainment. Ownership changed hands in 1958 when Warner was sold to George Hamid, who booked stage shows in the theatre.
A condition in the sale mandated Hamid to change the establishment’s name, which he did to Warren. The name choice was reportedly because it was the least expensive way to change the marquee. The theater was shut down in 1966 and converted into Boardwalk Bowl bowling alley.
Howard Johnson’s Boardwalk Regency Hotel was the next property owner after Hamid sold it to him four years later. Caesars acquired Boardwalk Regency Hotel in 1997.
The casino operator demolished most of the theater’s auditorium to recreate it as Bally’s Casino (now Caesars Atlantic City). The theater façade was, however, left and served as Bally’s boardwalk entrance as it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tickets to see The Hook are reportedly already on sale ahead of its June 2023 launch.