SNEAK PEEK: Woodlawn Theatre grand opening slated for May 19 [PHOTOS]

Will Mason, founder of Mason Music (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

The long-awaited Woodlawn Theatre opens on Friday evening in the heart of Woodlawn at 5503 1st Avenue North.

Bham Now took a tour of this special place, which will be home to both a new theater that will seat up to 250 patrons for recitals, concerts and special events and the Mason Music Foundation.

The Foundation provides a space for private music lessons and scholarships to children who need financial assistance.

Read on to learn more about this exciting new venue and music education space.

A Place for Music Lessons, Concerts and Events

Woodlawn Theatre opens May 19, 2023 (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

A few years ago, the Mason Music Foundation was looking for a Woodlawn studio home. The company had been teaching music lessons in the Birmingham metro area for a long time, including Woodlawn. 

Will Mason, the owner of Mason Music and his team searched for a new place in the Woodlawn neighborhood and found the 1st Avenue space. It was much bigger than what they needed for their students.

Woodlawn Theatre opens May 19, 2023 (Pat Byington/Bham Now

But then, he remembered a time while brainstorming with his staff, the idea to have both a place for music lessons and a venue.

Here is how Mason described it.

“I had a team member years ago, during a brainstorming session say, it’d be cool if we had our own performance place because we have recitals for our students. We’re always running out of space.We are very grateful for all the other venues in town, but sometimes it’s hard to get the date you need. 

It was a long term dream. Then we came across this space (5503 1st Avenue North) when we were  looking for a Mason Music Foundation location. We decided it made sense to put both under one roof.”


IMG 2500 SNEAK PEEK: Woodlawn Theatre grand opening slated for May 19 [PHOTOS]
Woodlawn Theatre opens May 19, 2023 (Pat Byington/Bham Now

The new space is not only an ideal place for lessons, concerts and events, it is a historic building that will soon become an important gathering place for the community.

According to Mason, from 1929 to 1957 the Woodlawn Theatre was originally home to the Woodlawn Cinema Theatre. 

It housed a hospital/clinic of some kind in later years, became a DIY music venue and ended up as a church called “God’s Army.”

Becoming Woodlawn Theatre

As reported by Bham Now in April 2022, work to transform the church back to a music venue and classrooms began in earnest.

Today, there are 6 sound-proof classrooms (including one that is double soundproofed for drummers) that will be used by six to twelve teachers a week. Mason Music Foundation presently has around 65 students with the ability to grow up to 200, thanks to the new classrooms.

The venue area, which has a spacious lobby, bar and stage, can fit about 250 concert-goers. 

“It’s really about the community first,” Mason told Bham Now, who recognized the support his group has received from Rev Birmingham, Woodlawn United, local businesses, the city of Birmingham and the neighborhood.

“Mason Music has been around for over 10 years now and we’ve had a lot of support from a lot of the neighborhoods in Birmingham. It’s time for us to give back to the community, especially the music community and musicians.”

Grand Opening

The grand opening for the Woodlawn Theatre is Friday, May 19th. The event is free, but you must reserve a spot by registering and securing a ticket at the following LINK.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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