The Spotlight Theatre is a Tulsa Landmark
July 29, 2025
The Spotlight theater was originally The Riverside Studio, also known as Tulsa Spotlight Club, was built in 1928. It was designed by Bruce Goff an architect who designed the building in a Industrial style of architecture. It was built as a house with a studio wing for a music teacher named Patti Adams Shriner. The Riverside Studio was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Sites in 2001 under Criterion C.
Riverside Studio was adorned with several unique artistic features. These included a large, circular front window, a fountain designed by Italian sculptor, Alfonso Iannelli, black glass and green marble fireplaces, Japanese wall coverings made from wood veneer, and a series of nine murals that Goff commissioned from Oklahoma artist Olinka Hrdy.[a] Facing bankruptcy during the Great Depression, Ms. Shriner lost ownership of the building in 1933. It went through a series of a series of receivers, and sat vacant until actor Richard Mansfield Dickinson bought it for only $2,500 in 1941
The Theater History
Since 1953, Dickinson's Tulsa Spotlight Club has used the building to present his adaptation of the 19th-century temperance melodrama The Drunkard. In 2008, Charles Conrad, then board chairman of the Spotlighters, wanted to restore the building to its original condition, plus bring the electrical and mechanical systems up to date. However, the estimated cost for this work was $700,000, far more than the Spotlighters could afford. In 2012, he indicated that the club had repaired the leaky roof, remodeled the bathrooms and converted an upstairs bedroom to a library.
In 2013, actor-director Joe Sears, best known for his co-creation of the Greater Tuna stage trilogy (and for the Tony nomination he received in 1985 for his performance in A Tuna Christmas), took charge as the production's new director. The play has been performed almost every Saturday night for six decades, and the company claims it to be the longest-running stage production in America.