October 4, 2007
WELLINGTON, TEXAS — This small Texas town has successfully turned back the hands of time with the restoration of the beautiful Ritz Theatre on the downtown square. On Oct. 13, Wellington is throwing open the doors to its hometown pride for all to see as the Amarillo Little Theatre presents, “Sweet Dreams, Peggy Sue” live on the Ritz stage at 8 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale every evening in the lobby at the Wellington Ritz Theatre from 6:30 until 7 p.m. Tickets also can be purchased by mail at Wellington Ritz Theatre, P. O. Box 202, Wellington, TX 79095.
Following the opening night event, a week of clasic movies is planned to celebrate the Ritz’s cinematic heritage that dates back to April 1929 when the Ritz showed the first talkies in town through the magic of Vitaphone and Movietone singing and talking pictures.
October 2, 2007
SAN DIEGO, CA — The end is near for the Balboa Theatre renovations.
The historic Balboa Theatre is just a few months away from a grand reopening. The vaudeville-era 1,300-seat live performance theater in the heart of downtown San Diego is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After numerous unsuccessful efforts over the past 18 years to renovate and reopen the Balboa Theatre, the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), the public, nonprofit corporation created by the City of San Diego to oversee downtown’s redevelopment, is nearing completion of the $26 million restoration project to return the venue to its original glory. The restoration is being completed in collaboration with the award-winning architectural firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky of Phoenix, Arizona. Scheduled for early 2008, the grand opening festivities will include a Roaring Twenties-themed gala, public tours and more.
“Like the Balboa, Downtown San Diego has undergone a great transformation. Preservation of this magnificent building is extremely important for the future character of the city,” said CCDC President Nancy Graham. “The Balboa Theatre is a testament to San Diego’s thriving arts and cultural community and CCDC is committed to restoring and returning this treasured icon, in its original grand style, to all who live, work and visit here.”
September 12, 2007
NEW YORK, NY — The Playpen may have had more theater incarnations than any cinema in town, but apparently that’s not enough to keep it going. The changing trends of Times Square will almost certainly soon demolish the building.
The homogenization of the Times Square area (yes, The Times has contributed to the phenomenon with its new headquarters opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal) has claimed another quirky victim: the Playpen, a former cinema that closed recently after 90-odd years.
Very odd years.
What Eighth Avenue will lose with its disappearance is more than an adults-only emporium with suggestive neon come-ons — “Live Girls,” “Preview Booths,” “Leather & Lace.” It will lose the last home of the Funny Store, an almost vaudevillian novelty shop. It will lose one of the most distinctive facades of any surviving theater from the early 20th century, a kind of heroic Palladian composition. And will lose a three-dimensional history lesson in the evolution of Times Square.
The rest along with the history of the structure over its changing years is in the New York Times.
September 7, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Watch a TV news clip of former Philadelphia movie houses! The AMC Orleans 8 opened as a single screen cinema showplace in Northeast Philadelphia in 1963 with reportedly the largest screen in Philadelphia.
TV Fox 29 reported on the closure of the Orleans last night, and showed what’s left of the exteriors of other former Northeast Philly single screen moviehouses- the Tyson, Castor, Benner, Devon (which will reopen for live shows), and the Mayfair. Those theaters were Art Deco and opened in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Watch the clip here.
September 6, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — My long-time friend and theater buff/walking encyclopedia; Jim Lewallen, former door man at the famous Castro Theatre, has kindly called me with happy news of the 1910 Vogue Theatre.
Apparently, it closed, only for a short while, and it was thought that the dreaded wrecking ball was heading its way.
“Not so” says Jim… “because she was snapped up by a small non-profit group and reopened after some volunteer TLC.”
September 4, 2007
KNOXVILLE, TN — Far from the usual story of a new multiplex driving people away from downtown businesses, this new theater seems to be improving business.
“We couldn’t wait until it opened,” said Hossein Ghodrat who owns the Market Square Kitchen. “So far it’s helped a lot, we see a lot more people coming downtown that we’ve never seen before.”
Ghodrat says his restaurant was nowhere near this busy when it opened four years ago.
“We didn’t have a Saturday and Sunday like we do now,” he said. “Today we can’t find enough good help around here.”
You can read more at WVLT.
August 23, 2007
SOUTH PASADENA, CA — My wife and I battled our way along the insane freeways of California to say “goodbye” to South Pasadena’s venerable Rialto Theatre.
This was our only visit and found the old lady looking very stressed-out -the facade looked like a bad case of sunburn from decades ago. In fact it must be countless decades since the structure, in and outside ever saw any TLC.
Entering the almost pitch black auditorium we were welcomed by the wonderful sounds of George Wrights recorded pipe organ music… so lovely, but not the NON-air conditioned atmosphere which smelled hot and very stale. The latter must have come from the rock-hard, ancient seats. No wonder the audiences moved away.
August 17, 2007
OCALA, FL — It has been over 25 years since the Marion Theatre felt the glow of a projector on her screen. On Saturday August 11th the seats were full and lights dawned her stage after a four year $2 million renovation.
Charlotte Spell Bunyan has fond memories of the Marion Theatre.
“We came here in 1945,” she said. “We were here all the time…This was something special that my mother and I would do.”
Bunyan was one of dozens of people present for the theater’s grand reopening Saturday, a day that brought back fond memories for many.
Please go to the Star-Banner for more details.
August 7, 2007
BARNSLEY, ENGLAND — Almost two years ago, 19th of September 2005 to be exact, Barnsley Odeon was closed and thought to be never open again. However this Wednesday, the 8th of August, it will reopen as a Parkway Cinema and will broadcast its first film of Shrek 3 at 1.10pm.
July 19, 2007
ORLANDO, FL — On October 1, a new movie theatre in downtown is scheduled to open. Currently under construction, when it is operating it will be the first movie theatre to be located in the city’s center in 30 years.
There is no word yet on what company will operate it. This information is from Cameron Kuhn, Orlando downtown developer.