Arts & Culture

Polk Theatre

Watch a movie, Broadway performance, or listen to a live concert at this historic vaudeville/movie palace during your Central Florida vacation. The King, Elvis Presley, once played there.

Vaudeville Theatre and Movie Palace

Upon approaching the Polk Theatre, it seems fairly standard, aside from its iconic marquee sign that has made its way onto the Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards of the masses. But the moment you walk into the building from the bustling streets of downtown Lakeland, you’ll understand that the Polk Theatre isn’t your standard theatre.

“Italian-born architect, J.E. Casale, designed the Polk Theatre to be a 2,000+ seat vaudeville/movie palace, which mimicked a Mediterranean village,” according to ScottyMoore.net. “The stage is flanked by Italianate walls with niches, sconces, and even faux balconies and windows. An ornately tiled staircase leads to the mezzanine lobby, where towering columns, intricate cornice and molding work, and brass banded terrazzo floors awe patrons.”

Historic Polk Theatre
Historic Polk Theatre

Theatre Architecture

The breathtaking splendor of Casale’s architecture resides under one of the theatre’s most fascinating design aspects: a deep blue ceiling full of twinkling stars, which can also be lit to simulate a sunrise/sunset. Even when you visit the theatre in broad daylight, it can difficult to convince your mind that you aren’t experience an evening in Italy – trust us, it’s that beautiful.

Elvis Presley's Signature

On August 6, 1956, Elvis Presley performed at the Polk Theatre for hordes of young fans. Reports reveal that patrons began lining up for his three scheduled evening performances as early as 9:00 a.m., and that one female fan even fainted from the heat! Elvis apparently put on quite the show for his dedicated fans.

“The singing did not seem to be what the teen-agers particularly were interested in, for every time the sultry side-burned singer would bump his hip, the frenzy would mount.”

— Elvalee Donaldson of the Lakeland Ledger

While there are no remnants of his entertaining performance, Elvis Presley did leave behind his signature on the wall of the theatre’s third floor dressing room. The signature has since been removed from the wall to avoid water damage from a flood, but is now framed and will soon be displayed in the theatre once again.

Current Events and Movies

You too can experience this unique venue during your Central Florida vacation as the Polk Theatre hosts film showings, Friday - Sunday. Enjoy independent films, classic films, foreign films and timeless films for the entire family. Be sure to check their Calendar of Events when you're in town. Tickets range from $4.00 - $7.00, and beer and wine are sold at the concession stand.

Address / Location

121 S Florida Ave
Lakeland, FL 33801
Get Directions

Contact Info

Visit Website
863-682-7553

Hours of Operation

Showtimes & Events Visit their website.

Next Event

Arts & Culture

Dinner & a Movie at Polk Theatre

Reviews

5 Star Rating

I have been to the Polk several times. It is a gem of a small movie palace. It is an atmospheric theater with stars twinkling in the "sky" and the feel that you are sitting in an Italian courtyard... Read Full Review

4 Star Rating

Very nice old theatre. Lots of street parking and a block or do from downtown. They offer a few snacks and beer and wine. Seats seem bigger than most theaters. I don't think the sound system was a... Read Full Review

4 Star Rating

This dates back to a time when live organ music entertained patrons before the start of the movie. The theater has been restored and has some beautiful features. They show only independent films... Read Full Review

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