Greek Drama Goes High Tech: The Story of Theo Kalomirakis, Father of the
Home Theater Industry

By Mary Papoutsy

Portsmouth, NH (HCS)-Theater and film come naturally to Greeks, raised in a culture that first developed drama many centuries ago amid stunning visual architecture and natural imagery. The works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are standard fare for Greek children even today, both in school and during the summer vacation months. Many a family attends outdoor performances at the Herodeion or the theater at Mt. Lycabettus in Athens, feasting on stellar acting by national theater troupes. I can well remember one such performance of Medea several years ago, spellbound by the acting, phenomenal handling of the theatrical orchestra, and the magical use of simple, eclectic props to convey the message of the ancient playwright. We sat alongside several families with small children, all of whom sat as attentively as we did, enveloped by the exquisite drama that had unfolded onstage. Having studied the Medea in college as a Classics student--and watching the mesmerizing performances of Dame Judith Anderson and Zoe Caldwell-I believed that there could be no improvement on Caldwell's role.

But I was wrong. The Greeks really know and understand drama. So much so that they were able to integrate the role of the theatrical orchestra seamlessly into the performance, something that American and British versions have never achieved. So much so that the Medea of the Greek national troupe surpassed her western counterparts. So much so that the Greeks were able to make novel use of props that westerners would never dream of placing on Euripides' stage-with astounding success. And that was just an opening glimpse. This dramatic excellence would be repeated many times over at other performances I had attended. I have yet to see Greek talent in this area bested.

The coup de grace for the Greeks was in the staging of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. It was the best ever, an inextricable combination of athletic and cultural excellence. And what an achievement it was! After watching the opening ceremonies, there could be no doubt that the Greeks have a near monopoly on drama and performance.

But what does all this have to do with Theo Kalomirakis one might ask? Everything. For starters, Kalomirakis is Greek, raised in Athens, in the same cultural milieu that promotes excellence in visual imagery and feeds its citizens drama of every sort. Kalomirakis transformed this love of the visual and dramatic into an award-winning career in the film industry. A Fulbright Foundation grant financed his first film in Athens, a meritorious piece that launched his honor-studded career. Transplanting his career from Greece to New York City, he later earned a Masters Degree at New York University in Film and Television and became an "acclaimed art director" for Time Warner and Forbes, Inc.

He turned his attention to the home theater industry after designing his own home theater, The Roxy. When his private theater had been unveiled and featured in The New York Times and USA Today, friends and enthusiasts asked him to create home theaters for them, too. And so, Theo Kalomirakis Theaters was born in 1989 serving a worldwide clientele, effectively establishing a new industry. Take a look at his website at

Kalomirakis brings to his projects honed skills developed as a filmmaker, an attention for detail and presentation not usually found in designers or contractors. The result has been a plethora of awards for this "Cecile B. Demille" of home theater, as the reviewers of High Point have called him. Leading critics have raved over his creations, judging them to be the latest, state of the art in technology and design. The prestigious Robb Report said: "His opulent home theaters make Kalomirakis the preeminent trend setter in home entertainment design." Critics at The New York Times echoed these sentiments, expanding upon them: "...he has built a movie theater so evocative of the past, with its plush red velvet seats and ornate moldings, that emerging into the daylight, even on a spectacular spring day, is annoying. Who wants to go out into the real world when the fantasy has been so perfectly realized?"

Kalomirakis works closely with clients to develop individualized private theaters. These masterpieces run from modest in size to monumental in scope. Designs cover lighting, acoustics, sightlines, seating, AV installation and other related areas of theater design. But each creation reflects the special interests and requests of clients, ranging from contemporary in style to traditional opulence. Kalomirakis has posted a series of sample "theaters" on his website to demonstrate the range of possibilities in theater design; all of these reflect actual designs and installations that have garnered awards.

Continued industry recognition of his designs culminated in a Lifetime Achievement Award from CEDIA in 2004, the home theater industry trade association. And rightly so. Kalomirakis has managed to bring the dreams and visions of his clients into their residences with astonishing results. His designs often transport clients into a space reminiscent of the days of the great theater houses of the 20th century, tailoring the effects to blend in with the architecture and style of the rest of the client's home. For Kalomirakis, the theater experience begins outside the viewing room itself, in a foyer where design and appearance help establish the mood for the inner auditorium. More elaborate creations include inner and outer lobby, entrance foyer, candy room, bar, and even adjoining powder rooms. The opulent Kiev and Paramount Lourmarin models top the traditional theater designs, recreating the settings of old-world magnificent theaters, while the South Beach (Art Deco) and Tuscany evoke settings in other exotic locales, in southern Florida and Italy. Simpler designs fit more contemporary styles, following the Digital Palace and Ritz models. Price ranges run from $35,000 to several million dollars, with the average cost about $350 per foot.

But finances are not the overriding concern when developing a private theater. Modest budgets can incorporate a number of the features of these state-of-the-art home theaters designed by maestro Kalomirakis. According to him, the most important elements are the "proper application of good sound and picture." For without these, even the best aesthetic appearance cannot compensate for poor sound or picture. That's why he and his design team "collaborate closely with the most highly regarded custom electronic installers around the world to stay on top of the latest advances in the audio video industry."

Clients have been delighted with his designs. In an interview for The Chicago-Sun Times, Jeanie Blum describes the experience of her new Kalomirakis creation, as it evokes some nostalgic elements of her life: "It's the same feeling as sitting on the cliff and watching the sunrise. Sitting in this theater, I go back as a child and remember the good times. . . When I entertain, everyone usually ends up in the theater. It's such a great place, you forget you're in a house. You think you're in a real, old-fashioned movie theater." And with those words, Ms. Blum acknowledges that Kalomirakis achieves what he sets out to do, to "help them transform their typical movie-going routines into enchanting rituals -- inside their homes." While doing so, this young Greek has fulfilled his own dreams and walked away with a first-place prize in home theater industry. He has magically orchestrated all of the roles of designer, performer, and technician to create his own legendary story, a drama that has drawn many accolades.