The Historic Malco Theatre, located on the corner of Central Avenue and Chapel Street, was built on a site that once housed silent films and vaudeville acts. When the Princess Theatre, established in 1910, saw its demise on Christmas Eve of 1934 at the hands of a devastating fire, the only surviving remains were its foundation and natural stone entrance, elements that became the cornerstone of the Malco Theatre. After rebuilding the Princess Theatre into a larger, irregular shaped theatre with an attractive art deco facade, the owner sold his shares to the Malco Theater Group and the theatre was rebranded.
The Malco Theatre has since entertained tens of thousands of area visitors and residents--it was a frequent dig for former President Bill Clinton as a youngster and has hosted the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI). However, the Malco Theatre has a blight on its past. Until 1964 when racial segregation was federally abolished, the Malco Theatre had a separate entrance for black patrons, located on the Bealle Street side of the theatre. After purchasing tickets at a separate box office and refreshments at a separate window of the concessions, black patrons were required to view shows from the balcony. The Malco Theatre is one of two historic theatres in North America to retain its decommissioned segregated entrance - as a tribute to the civil rights victories teed off by Rosa Parks in 1955.
Throughout the years, the theatre has seen a number of renovations and continued to show movies through 1995 until it changed owners and became home to Maxwell Blade and his Theatre of Magic and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI). In 2012, Maxwell Blade temporarily moved his show to a smaller location. In 2016, Maxwell Blade announced, “We are coming home to the Malco Theatre.” He has completely renovated the building top to bottom with new seating, art deco interiors, a digital marquee, and a sound and lighting system to match any theatre in the country today. With a larger stage, Maxwell Blade was able to add cast members and expand his production to the amazing proportions that wow audiences today.