The Gothic Revival architecture of the Yucca Theater provides a decorative appendage to the historic Petroleum Building it’s attached to in downtown Midland, creating an elaborate counter to the more conservative Neo-gothic high rise. But inside, they both no doubt share a similar level of melodrama. Built by Midland oilman T. S. Hogan, the Yucca opened on December 5, 1929 with a screening of the Hollywood musical “Rio Rita” and a live musical comedy revue from New York City. The theater’s Gothic Revival exterior was designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt C. Hedrick but its interior design, by the New York architect H. B. Layman, steals the show with its Egyptian Revival style, an artistic interpretation that draws heavily on Egypt’s ancient culture and made popular with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.
In 1949, the Yucca Theater presented its first Summer Mummers production, a nightly performance of a locally written melodrama followed by vaudeville acts and musical comedy numbers. The production, designed to raise funds for the Midland Community Theater, runs for the three summer months each year. Audience participation features popcorn throwing, encouraged by both the melodramatic action on stage and the friendly service at the full bar in the lobby.
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