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“Best kept secret!”

The Gerding Theater at the Armory
Ranked #52 of 442 things to do in Portland
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The Gerding Theater at the Armory is the home of Portland Center Stage, the city's leading professional theater and one of the top 20 largest regional theater companies in the U.S. PCS's mission is to inspire our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. Founded in 1988, PCS attracts more than 150,000 theatergoers annually with its blend of classical, contemporary and world premiere works, along with its summer playwrights festival, JAW. PCS also offers a variety of education and community programs tailored for patrons of all ages. Located in Portland's Pearl District, the Gerding Theater at the Armory houses two theaters: The U.S. Bank Main Stage and the Ellyn Bye Studio. It was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places - and the first performing arts venue - to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification.
Hillsboro, Oregon
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Best kept secret!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 March 2012

We have had many exciting opportunities to participate in theater. Sometimes a Great Notion, Santaland Diaries to Oklahoma. Amazing talent and at bargain prices too. Never again the Schnitz or Keller Auditoriums.

Thank jane W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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135 reviews from our community

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English first
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
121 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 193 helpful votes
“Classic building brilliantly repurposed”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 February 2012

The theater is named for the late Bob Gerding, a visionary real estate developer who made a major imprint on downtown Portland and left our city a richer and better place by his work, energy, and creativity. The classic stone building was originally the National Guard Armory. Later it was used for professional boxing and wrestling matches. Then it sat empty for many years. Gerding and his partner acquired the building as part of a five-block package that also included an old brewery, which they proceeded to redevelop as The Brewery Blocks, a mixed-use residential and retail project in a part of the city (The Pearl District) that was in the process of emerging from a half century of deterioration. The Armory building itself, however, was something of a white elephant. It could not be demolished because of its historic landmark status, but it would need extensive renovation for any imaginable use.

Fortunately for all concerned and the city at large, it so happened that Gerding was also a long-time board member and generous patron of a theater company called Portland Center Stage, which had been performing for year in the modern Performing Arts Center in a newer part of town. He was thus ideally positioned to put a deal together between the theater company, the building owners (himself and his partner), and the City of Portland to renovate and repurpose the Armory building as a new home for Portland Center Stage. After years of work, the ultimate result is a magical transformation which at once found a new and ideal use for a classic historic landmark, created a major cultural asset in a vibrantly reascendant neighborhood, and provided a welcome new home for the largest theater company in town. The lobby is a marvel of warmth and charm. There are two theater spaces: the main stage theater with a seating capacity of 599, and a smaller downstairs studio theater with flexible seating for up to 200.

As might be expected of a 100' x 200' 19th century building, the configuration is not ideal for use as a theater. The space is longer and narrower than one might wish for the best seating arrangement and acoustics. If I were rating it strictly as a live theater venue, in comparison to more modern theaters originally designed as such, my rating would probably be 3 stars. However I give it the additional stars based on (a) the quality of productions of the resident theater company, (b) the ingeniousness of the conversion, and (c) and its tremendous contribution to the cultural life of the city. In all, it is one of Portland's real treasures.

Visited April 2011
Thank BobConklin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
91 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Neat Small Theater”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 February 2012

Really nice small theater in an old armory. Neat plays. In the Pearl.

Thank RaySF84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
106 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Beautiful Venues”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 February 2012

The Gerding is home to PCS--one of Portland's professional theatre companies. The building has two good theatres in it--The mainstage is also a charming venue for dance, but isn't used much that way. The black box in the basement hosts more off beat shows and can set up any number of ways. There is also good space for art in the building and the lobby area is something of a neighborhood hangout in a neighborhood with lots of good hanging out to do. Rush seats are a good value--there are no bad seats. If PDX features something you've got a hankering for you'll get a good production of it here but don't ignore other theatres in town. Most are on the less-expensive East side of the Willamette River.

Visited February 2012
Thank AllMimsy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, OR
Level Contributor
55 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“PCS is the BEST”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 February 2012

The best plays, best acting - both on the main stage and the blackbox theater. Customer service for subscribers is great, and would recommend trying the rush line on most any night for discounted tix prior to a show.

Thank ChrisPdx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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