Destination Spotlight – The Cactus Theater
If you’re familiar at all with West Texas, then you’ve heard of the Cactus Theater in Lubbock. This venue hosts some of the best live music in West Texas and has seen hundreds of stars grace its stage. We caught up with the founder, Don Caldwell, to find out more about what makes the Cactus Theater such a special place.
1. What is the history of the Cactus Theater, and what is the organization like today?
In 1937 the Cactus Theater was on its way to being the first suburban, neighborhood movie theater. The doors opened April of 1938 featuring 720 seats, a washed air cooling system (air-conditioning), and a marquee glowing a neon bright 750 feet. Today, movies are no longer played at the Cactus, and music fills the building instead.
In 1993, I had a vision of transforming the theater from movies to music. I wanted to establish a venue where talented West Texas performers could showcase their skill while providing entertainment for the region like never before. This vision initiated the development of the Lubbock Depot Entertainment District.
Since its original construction, it has undergone various renovations to enhance the music experience. The balcony, sloped floor and stage were kept intact while the projection booth was redesigned to secure spotlights and a state-of-the-art sound and light system. About 400 modernized seats were installed along with an up to date concession stand and restrooms in the lobby. The final touch was a Caprock Canyon mural by artist John Russell.
Finally, the Cactus re-opened its doors in 1995 as a live performance theater.
2. What are some annual, can’t-miss events at the Cactus Theater?
Annually, we have the Cactus Family Christmas Celebration along with the Cactus Kids Christmas, which showcases the finest young singers anywhere! The kids also come back one more time during the spring to put on a tribute show. The rest of the year we book what seems to be appropriate at that particular time.
3. What are the biggest events or concerts that should not be missed this year?
Our Texas Country/Red Dirt concerts throughout the year should not be missed, as well as our music tribute shows to major, iconic artists produced and performed by the stars of the Cactus Theater. We also bring in major national touring artists throughout the year that you’ll want to keep an eye out for!
4. What do you hope an audience member will experience while visiting the Cactus Theater?
The most entertaining show and environment possible!
5. What sets the Cactus Theater apart from other attractions?
We are extremely selective about the talent we stage and are known for having the highest possible quality benchmark for the concerts we provide. A major outreach is developing, mentoring and showcasing the best young talent in the region and throughout the southwest United States.
6. Tell us about your favorite Cactus performance/moment.
Presenting Donnie Allison in the lead role of “Buddy the Buddy Holly Story,” and presenting Terri Caldwell along with Jane Prince Jones in “Always… Patsy Cline.” Also, the magical moments from the performances by the JD’s!
7. Is there anything coming up in the future we should know about?
We have historically presented concerts at least two nights a week, Friday and Saturday. Our plans in the future include beginning to present three shows per week.
The Cactus Theater Fast Facts:
Location: 1812 Buddy Holly Ave.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Thursday from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m., Closed on Sunday