The latest movie theater news and updates

  • September 21, 2016

    Somers Point, NJ – Show not over for Gateway Playhouse renovations

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    From the Press of Atlantic City: In the years since the city took over the Gateway Playhouse, work on renovating the heart of the 116-year-old Bay Avenue landmark has hit a dramatic, and extended, pause.

    The building’s interior still looked Friday just about like it did since at least 2010, basically torn down to bare studs without a seat or a stage in sight.

    But work is finally ready to start back up after the city, which bought the building in late 2006, awarded a contract to a Vineland company to finish the inside of the theater. Capri Construction is scheduled to start work in early October, although Somers Point’s city administrator, Wes Swain, said Friday that the company could get moving on the project as soon as this month. The target date for finishing the job is April, Swain added.

    That would be a pleasant plot development to Mayor Jack Glasser, who has dealt with delays and drama at the Gateway almost since he was elected in 2007. The mayor sees a redone theater improving Somers Point’s economic life almost as much as it does the area’s cultural life.

    “In the summer, we have our beach concerts right across the street, and look how many people come to those,” he said of the Friday music series that, on big nights, can fill most of a block of Bay Avenue with beach chairs and blankets full of music lovers.

    The renovations are being funded largely by two state grants, including $400,000 from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and $102,000 from the New Jersey Historic Trust.

    Jim Dalfonso heads the Theater Collaborative of South Jersey, a nonprofit group that’s worked for years to raise money to restore the Gateway. He said the group has research showing that even a “light season” at the 240-seat theater should bring 16,000 customers to Bay Avenue, one of the city’s business hubs.

    “Those folks are going to want to go out and eat. Parents are going to want to go shopping while their kids are in (rehearsals),” Dalfonso said, plus the renovation plans include meeting rooms in the theater that will be available for use when there aren’t performances going on. The theater’s supporters expect those accommodations to be a draw, too.

    “People from all over our area seem to think that Somers Point is a place that’s easy to go to. Folks will come up from Cape May, people will come over from Margate” and other places, he said. “This building’s audience base has historically drawn from a wide area.”

    Dalfonso, a music major who sells ceiling materials in his day job, knows the outside of the Gateway looks much better than it did when the city bought the onetime movie theater about 10 years ago.

    “The siding was put up three or four years ago,” a new Gateway marquee was added along Bay Avenue in the fall of 2013 and a new roof protects the inside, he said. “We got the exterior of the building done, and then the city applied for the grants and we had to halt construction on the rest of the building.”

    And since then, he added, “Absolutely nothing has been done.”

    But the city has been pursuing the money needed to do the work, and making sure it has enough to do the job right.

  • September 20, 2016

    Hunterdon County, NJ – X-rated films and free water: Odd facts about these 2 cinemas

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    From NJ.com: The news about movie theaters in Hunterdon County in 1976 was decidedly better – and more unique – than today.

    Back then, Kapow, Inc. of East Orange announced it would be taking over as operators of the Clinton Point Theater in Clinton Township and the Barn Theater in Frenchtown as of Oct. 1, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat archives. The announcement meant the two movie houses would remain open.

    The New York Times had reported in 1973 that Brandt had agreed to a six-week ban of X-rated movies at the Clinton Point Theater after some in the community protested. The experiment failed and the adult films continued to be shown.

    A bit of interesting trivia about the Barn Theater: Workers digging a well when the building was built in 1939 struck water that still flows to the surface to this day. For some 50 years the excess water poured from a pipe where it could be collected by anyone.

  • Sausalito, CA – Plan unveiled for Sausalito movie theater revamp

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    From marinij.com: A plan unveiled for Sausalito’s shuttered movie house is good news for city film fans — two theaters are part of the new design, as is a restaurant and upstairs office space for the Caledonia Street building.

    Operations at the old CineArts Marin in the city’s downtown wound down in January after Texas-based Cinemark Holdings Inc. informed the building’s owners in late 2015 it will not renew its lease, citing poor attendance.

    Sausalito Mayor Jill Hoffman formed a committee made up of residents, local business owners and city staff to work with the property owner to find ways to keep a theater at the location. The work appears to have paid off.

    Now the design is going through the city process. The Historical Landmarks Board signed off on changes to the 14,000-square-foot building that was constructed in 1909. Next up is the Planning Commission on Oct. 5.

    The new plan includes a restaurant and two theaters on the first floor. There had been three screens before.

    One of the theaters would be set up to accommodate live performances and lectures, Bruce Huff, property manager, told the City Council Tuesday.

    The larger theater would have about 75 seats and the smaller theater roughly 50. The seats would be plush, reclining and have more space for patrons. The movie theater rooms would show first-run and art films.

    Offices would go in a second floor that had been used mostly for storage. Glass walls would be used around part of the restaurant and the building would be veiled in timbers, conjuring up images of the city’s waterfront and ships.

    “It’s a design that adds to vibrancy and life of Caledonia Street,” Huff told the council as part of an informational hearing. He added that parking was available within a short walk of the building.

    A theater and a restaurant operator have been identified by the building’s owners, but will not be named until the building work gets city approvals.

    “We are right in the middle of this process,” said James To, the building’s owner. “We understand there is still a long way to go. We are looking forward to any feedback from the community, council members and the Planning Commission have for us.”

    The original style of the building was Mission Revival. The building was constructed as the Tamalpais Pavilion with the ground floor serving as a garage to the hall above, according to the Historical Landmarks Board.

    The structure may also have functioned initially as a livery stable with openings for a hay loft uncovered at the rear of the structure on the second floor. It was an automobile repair shop with a ramp from the first floor to the second floor allowing for car parking, according to the Historical Landmarks Board’s history.

  • September 19, 2016

    South Bend, IN – Tax sale clouds State Theatre’s future in South Bend

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    From the South Bend Tribune:
    The historic State theater, a proud and elegant entertainment anchor for downtown through much of the 20th century, again faces an uncertain future after it was “sold” for back taxes last month to a Chicago firm.

    Still, the current owner insists he plans to keep the building, calling it, “a unique asset.”

    First National Assets, specializing in municipal tax liens, purchased a lien on the property for $36,843.83 at a county tax sale on Aug. 26. That’s the same amount owner Banko Capital owes in back taxes, penalties and fees on the property, which anchors the 200 block of South Michigan Street downtown.

    First National Assets did not return a call seeking comment Thursday, but the firm specializes in “purchasing and servicing delinquent taxes,” according to its website.

    The building, with a significant downtown footprint, has had an up-and-down existence since first opening as a 1,500-seat vaudeville house called the Blackstone in 1920. According to Tribune archives, it transitioned into a movie house in the 1950s and was renamed The State. As movie theaters began to spring up in suburban shopping malls, The State struggled and eventually closed in 1977.

    Following a $500,000 renovation, The State reopened in 1994 and has since served as a theater, concert venue and nightclub.

    Banko bought the 41,865-square-foot theater out of foreclosure in 2011. It is currently on the market for about $1.2 million, down from about $1.5 million last year. Banko, which also owns the Wayne Place building downtown, has one year to redeem the property for 110 percent of the sale price plus any penalties or fees, or First National Assets may apply for ownership.

    Until recently, the theater, which includes three active storefronts, had hosted infrequent events, including a live performance of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

    Its status now is not clear.

    Signs taped to the front entrance Thursday read, “Maya Capital has taken over management of the State Theatre. Any person(s) entering the State Theatre without consent of Maya Capital will be trespassing.”

    Assaf Dagan owns both Maya Capital and Banko Capital, which share an address on Main Street in Mishawaka, according to records on file with the Indiana secretary of state.

    Dagan, who lives in Israel, said Thursday he was unaware of the tax sale, but intended to redeem the property as soon as possible.

    “I definitely intend to pay the taxes and keep the State,” Dagan said. “We’re definitely going to move forward with events and do more activities as much as we can.”

    Dagan blamed the situation on previous management, which he said failed to keep him informed of day-to-day and financial operations over a period of several years.

    “Even I didn’t know about it, that the taxes were not even paid,” Dagan said. “That was a sign that I need to stop everything and freeze everything and change to a new management company.”

    That new company is not Maya Capital, he said.

    “That’s just a temporary solution until we can do our own checking about who is the best management company to run this kind of an asset, because we are aware that it is a unique asset,” he said.

    And yet Dagan refused to invest in the property, said Jacqui Oberlin, the former manager, despite significant maintenance issues.

    “I really didn’t get paid to run the theater,” Oberlin said. “In order for me to pay my bills, I not only had to run the theater, which took an exorbitant number of hours … I also had to work at other jobs.”

    As a result, Oberlin said, she fell behind on the books.

    And the delinquent property taxes?

    “That was not ever my responsibility, that was his responsibility,” Oberlin said, noting she only began managing the theater last year while the tax issues date back several years. “Why that would even be assumed by anybody is crazy.”

    As for when the theater will reopen, “Very soon,” Dagan said Thursday.

    That’s little comfort to groups with upcoming events at the State.

    “This has really put us in a bind,” said Jennifer Jacobs of BSR Paranormal, which had planned to host a conference and ghost hunt at the theater next month. “This is just a mess.”

    Now, Jacobs added, “We’re looking for a new place to have it.”

  • West Seattle, WA – At last the Admiral Theater is set for renovation; City permits in place the landmark will be restored

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    From the West Seattle Herald: With all required city ​building permits in hand, upgrades, expansion and renovations of the Historic Admiral Theater in West Seattle will begin in earnest on Monday, ​Sept.​ 19 with completion expected in November.

    Moviegoers will be able to see films at the Admiral during the construction period, according to Jeff Brein, managing partner of Far Away Entertainment, the Bainbridge Island-based group that operates the theater.

    “Our principal goal is to keep the theater open during this process, albeit on a limited basis,” Brein said. “Initially, weekday films will be presented in a single theater, with expanded schedules on weekends. As the project progresses and additional auditoriums are readied we expect the number of movie offerings to increase.”

    Brein and partner Sol Baron have worked with building owner Marc Gartin for several years to plan a history-based renovation of the iconic 1942 theater, for which the Southwest Seattle Historical Society secured city landmark status 27 years ago. The Gartin family purchased and reopened the theater in 1992 after a three-year closure.

    The current two-auditorium footprint will expand to four and will feature stadium seating in two larger auditoriums. Additional enhancements will include new, state-of-the-art digital laser projection systems, a 3D auditorium, Dolby Digital sound systems, new seating with beverage cup holders and upgraded carpeting, concessions area and restrooms.

    “Additionally,” Brein said, “we have been working with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and plan to reveal and eventually restore the original, interior auditorium murals featuring underwater appliqués that have been hidden since the theater was twinned in 1973. We also have been working together on other improvements, including repainting of the lobby and preservation of its 1942 mural of Captain George Vancouver and other artwork. Other less apparent enhancements will include a revised traffic flow pattern for ticket sales and more open space in the lobby, improved theater floor lighting and an upgrade of the theater’s marquee.”

    The Admiral Theater project team includes Swinterton Builders, CDA Architecture and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, as well as the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, which approved the renovation in June. Credit also goes to King County Council member Joe McDermott and King County Executive Dow Constantine, both West Seattle residents, for helping secure a $95,000 “Saving Landmarks” grant from 4Culture last November.

    The Southwest Seattle Historical Society eagerly anticipates the renovation, said Clay Eals, executive director. “We are thrilled that these many improvements will allow the Admiral Theater to thrive well into the future and can occur without harming – and actually exposing and showcasing more of – the building’s historic features,” Eals said.

    “We salute Far Away Entertainment and the Gartin family ownership for their perseverance and heart,” he said.

    “This renovation project and the existence of the theater itself wouldn’t be possible without the grassroots effort that saved it in 1989, and the history of this moviehouse, an art deco masterpiece, is a shining example of how neighbors engaging in the landmark process can add economic vitality to the city while building community pride.”

  • Palo Alto, CA – Palo Alto theater to stay open for next two years

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    From the Mercury News: CinéArts will stay open for another two years after its parent company reached an agreement with Palo Alto Square property owners, city officials announced Thursday.

    The theater at 3000 El Camino Real will stay open while Cinemark Theatres and Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. “undertake improvements to the building and assess the long-term future of the theatre,” the city of Palo Alto news release stated.

    At the urging of city officials, the property owner and its tenant have continued negotiations in the past couple of months.

    News of the theater’s closure surfaced as it neared the end of its lease in August.

    Hudson Pacific will make improvements to the building as requested by Cinemark. The company also intends to make landscaping, amenity and other aesthetic improvements to Palo Alto Square.

    “This reprieve for the Palo Alto Theatre is the result of efforts by Hudson Pacific and Cinemark Theatres with encouragement from the city,” said City Manager James Keene. “Hudson Pacific and Cinemark are to be congratulated for coming together for the good of our community.”

    The city had hoped for a long-term lease extension, Keene said.

    “But the theatre will remain open and ultimately the economics of the theatre’s operations will determine whether CinéArts will remain in this location,” Keene added. “To see a longer lease extension in the future, our community will need to actively support the theatre.”

    Hudson Pacific senior vice president Drew Gordon said the company appreciates “cooperation and goodwill” by all parties.

    “The next two years are a window of opportunity to determine whether the theatre can operate in Palo Alto Square for the long term,” Gordon said.

    Tom Owens, executive vice president of real estate for Cinemark, said the theater company applauds the efforts by Hudson Pacific and the city of Palo Alto to enable the theater to continue operations.

    “We believe the theatre can stay in Palo Alto with the community’s full support, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve Palo Alto and the surrounding region,” Owens said.

    City officials such as councilwomen Karen Holman and Liz Kniss and community members rallied to show support for the theater in recent months, collecting more than 2,500 signatures to petition the theater to stay open.

    City officials had said that had CinéArts left, the building’s owner would have to find another theater tenant or request rezoning to allow for an alternate use.

    Palo Alto Square was developed through a Planned Community zoning ordinance in 1969, allowing uses such as office space and a hotel that has since been amended.

    The closure of CinéArts would have left Palo Alto with the Aquarius Theatre on Emerson Street, which also is a first-run theater that shows some independent films, and the Stanford Theatre, which shows classic movies.

    Link to the story: http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/15/palo-alto-theater-to-stay-open-for-next-two-years/

    ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

    Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org

  • Nampa, ID – Pix Theatre’s new owner has big dreams

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    From the Idaho Press-Tribune:
    The interior of the historic Pix Theatre in downtown Nampa is stripped bare and empty, save for some old promotional materials, construction equipment and a few piles of dirt.

    Debbie Lasher-Hardy, a local real estate professional who bought the 70-year-old Pix in February for an undisclosed sum, appears to see it like an artist would a blank canvas with a history.

    “It’s dear to my heart,” Lasher-Hardy said. “It was a theater that I group up with and attended.”

    She realized she wanted to buy the Pix two years ago, she said.

    “Every time that I would drive by and see that nothing had happened yet, I felt that it was my mission to make this thing happen,” Lasher-Hardy said. “And I know a lot of people in this community — worked with a lot — and I’m just going to reach out to them and ask them to come in and help, basically.”

    Lasher-Hardy came on the scene on the heels of the nonprofit foundation that struggled for years to revive the downtown building.

    The Pix Theatre Foundation was raising the $1.5 million necessary to revive the Pix when the roof collapsed in 2003. The roof was replaced in 2006, and from there the board members struggled to break even with fundraising costs, insurance, taxes and other expenses.

    By December 2014, the foundation board members said the project needed new leadership and indicated a desire to sell the theater.

    “We’re tired,” Pix Theatre Foundation President Debra Lindner said prior to stepping down. “We’ve done everything. We’ve been the committee heads. We’ve done the fundraising. We’ve gone down with a shovel and shoveled dirt. And we’ve wanted to. We’re not sorry about it, but people can only do so much for so long. We just need a boost. If the community speaks and wants this theater to be complete, now is the time for people to come forward and help it happen.”

    Lasher-Hardy said some of the former board members are interested in being involved again, and she is considering what role they will play as she puts together her leadership team. On her list of members for the Pix Anew board is Steve Perotti, her pastor at First Christian Church in Nampa and a self-professed fan of the theater arts.

    “There’s a huge opportunity for us as a community to make this happen again,” Perotti said.

    As Lasher-Hardy showed the Idaho Press-Tribune around the dark and dusty Pix earlier this week, she talked about her plans for the future.

    The new owner is optimistic about the public’s ability to band together to fix the Pix.

    “My idea for fundraising is more to reach out to the community with all of their expertise, their professionalism on whatever they can give and would like to give,” Lasher-Hardy said.

  • September 16, 2016

    Greensboro, NC – Former movie theater and bookstore sold to Triad university

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    From the Triad Business Journal: The former Addam’s University Bookstore that borders UNCG has been sold to the university.

    The building is at 326 S. Tate St. It was built in 1938 and is a cornerstone of the eclectic Tate Street business district.

  • Road trip to one of Kansas’ historic theaters

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    From the Wichita Eagle: They were going to tear it down and replace it with a parking lot.

    You’ll read that on the timeline of many historic downtown theaters across the United States, including several dozen in Kansas. Thanks to grass-roots efforts to save and preserve the buildings, historic theaters across the state make great road trip destinations, taking you to the cultural core of towns of all sizes, showcasing architecture of a bygone era and providing diverse entertainment, including movies, concerts, comedy shows, plays, ballet, opera, musicals, children’s programming, lectures and conventions.

    These theaters were designed and constructed during a time when the building was meant to be part of the show-going experience.

    “All of these theaters have a tremendous history, and their beauty takes you back to a different time, a different place,” said Jennifer Allen, past president of Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre and president of the Kansas Historic Theatres Association until she moved to Colorado recently. “It’s a really fun experience to go see a show at a historical theater in any town.”

    You can find theaters in all stages of restoration in Kansas. Some are fully restored; for example, Emporia’s Granada Theater or Hutchinson’s Historic Fox Theatre. Some are operating yet continuing restoration efforts, such as Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre or the soon-to-open Burford Theatre in Arkansas City. Others are closed while undergoing restoration, such as the Colonial Fox in Pittsburg, although still offering tours and occasional events.

    The approach taken with the 1924 Burford Theatre is a good example of what you can expect when visiting one of the region’s historic theaters. Executive director Ellen Snell said the project involved preserving, restoring and modernizing. For example, they were able to preserve the 92-year-old terrazzo floor in the lobby. There are signs of wear and tear – like the marks from stools used where a soda fountain once stood – but nothing distracting. They restored the orchestra pit and the single stage, which had been removed when the building was converted to a three-screen movie house, and returned the decorative scope of the entire theater to its original Spanish renaissance style. They modernized the bathrooms, concessions areas, audio-visual technology and seating.

    Taking a tour, attending an event, shopping at the theater’s gift shop or becoming a patron all support a theater’s renovation efforts and its ongoing operations. Next time you’re in the mood for dinner and a show, check the schedules at these historic theater destinations. Though their calendars are fullest from September through April, they schedule programming year-round and take a something-for-everyone approach.

    Augusta Theatre

    The Augusta Theatre was built as a movie palace in 1935 and operated by the Bisagno family for 50 years. It was donated to the local arts council in 1989 and has been completely restored to its appearance in 1948, which was the year a full concessions stand was built in the theater’s lobby. The exterior of the two-story art deco building features individual tiles of opaque structural glass and a decorative neon marquee. The colors of interior murals, hand-painted ceiling panels and handmade ornamental plaster designs create an Egyptian appearance.

    Volunteers operate the theater, which mostly shows current movies on Saturdays and Sundays. This fall’s schedule also includes children’s theater. Check the schedule at augustahistorictheatre.com.

    Burford Theatre (Arkansas City)

    The Burford Theatre opened in 1924 as a vaudeville silent-movie house. It was converted to a three-screen movie theater in the mid-1980s and closed in 2004. It was donated to the local arts council, which decided to renovate and restore the space to create the VJ Wilkins Family Center for the Arts at the Burford Theatre. After 12 years of work, including thousands of volunteer hours and $7 million raised through private donations and grants, the Burford is scheduled to reopen this month.

    The main auditorium, which seats 350, will be open, but the balcony is not yet finished. While operational, the theater will begin a second restoration phase. Grand opening events are scheduled from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 and include a theater dedication, an open house, a 1920s-themed party and two performances of the “Burford Follies” featuring Music Theatre Wichita and local talent.

    Initial programming is scheduled through December and offers movies, dinner theater, a vaudeville night and jazz performances. For more information, visit the VJ Wilkins Family Center for the Arts at the Burford Theatre page on Facebook or call 620-442-5896.

    Emporia Granada Theater

    The Emporia Granada Theater opened in 1929 with 1,400 seats, showing movies and hosting live performances before closing in 1982. The theater sat empty and deteriorated until demolition threatened in 1994. Local residents rallied to save the theater, and it reopened in 2007, renovated to its original Spanish Colonial Revival style inside and out and now seating 800.

    “One of the things we’re really proud of is the painted ceiling,” said Bryan Williams, executive director since 2012. “When you come in, be sure to walk all the way down to the stage and look back. The ceiling alone took 30 days to sand it back and hand paint it using stencils.” The carpet was specially milled to match a swatch of the original carpet, and there is gold leaf paint in the lobby.

    Williams said community support has been strong for programming that includes concerts, comedy shows, movies and dinner movies, and it’s not unusual for events to sell out. Upcoming events include country acts Craig Morgan on Sept. 28, the Charlie Daniels Band on Nov. 6 and Sawyer Brown on Dec. 10. Visit emporiagranada.com for a full schedule.

    Hutchinson’s Historic Fox Theater

    Hutchinson’s art deco Fox Theatre opened as a movie palace in 1931 and closed in 1985. A local preservation group purchased it in 1990 and reopened it in 1999 after spending $4.5 million to restore it to its 1931 appearance. Josh Davies, executive director, said visitors are intrigued with the intricate decorative moldings; the original light fixtures, including six large chandeliers; and the marquee, the first flashing display of neon in Kansas and now one of the few surviving original and functioning marquees in the country.

    Programming includes live entertainment by nationally touring performing artists, Hutchinson Symphony Orchestra performances and a weekend film series shown on a 40-foot-wide screen. Fall concerts include Frankie Avalon on Oct. 8, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen on Oct. 28 and jazz artist Karrin Allyson on Nov. 17. Visit hutchinsonfox.com for a full schedule.

    C.L. Hoover Opera House (Junction City)

    In 1882, a section of the newly constructed public hall in Junction City was built as a 600-seat opera house. A fire destroyed the building in 1898, and it was rebuilt the same year; this time the theater had a larger stage and more seats. It operated until 1982, seeing many renovations and eventually becoming a movie theater. The theater remained closed for 26 years, then reopened as the C.L. Hoover Opera House in 2008 after a $7 million restoration.

    The exterior looks the same – distinguished by a Romanesque-style clock tower – while the interior layout changed significantly to become a multi-use facility for the local performing arts community in addition to hosting regional and national acts in a 416-seat theater.

    Events this fall include a New York touring musical comedy improv, the premiere of a film based on Kansas history and shot nearby and a “Singin’ with the Big Band” concert featuring Christopher Alan Graves. Find a full schedule at jcoperahouse.org.

    McPherson Opera House

    When the McPherson Opera House opened in 1888 as a live performance venue, it had no equal between Kansas City and Denver, making it a popular stop for acts crossing the country. It was designed with two balconies and seating for 900. It converted to a movie theater with one balcony in 1929 and closed in 1965. A group formed in 1986 to save the building from demolition.

    After $8.5 million in renovations, the building is now a fully restored multi-use facility. The 470-seat auditorium reopened in 2010 with 1913-style renovations, when a redecoration added decorative stenciling throughout and a hand-painted mural above the proscenium arch. There’s also a resale shop on-site that benefits the opera house and an arts center with classes and rotating galleries.

    McPherson Opera House events this fall include a cappella, opera, cowboy music, jazz and bluegrass. Visit mcphersonoperahouse.org for more information.

    Orpheum Theatre (Wichita)

    When the Orpheum Theatre opened as a vaudeville theater in downtown Wichita in 1922, it was the first atmospheric theater in the United States.

    “An atmospheric theater was a theater with a painted theme that gave you the feeling you were somewhere else. Ours was under a Mediterranean sky,” said Diana Gordon, the Orpheum’s president and chief development officer.

    The theater closed in 1976 and was saved from demolition in the mid-1980s. It officially reopened in 2000, and since then, more than $5 million has been raised and invested in the theater. The auditorium, which seats 1,298, has yet to be fully renovated.

    The Orpheum hosts more than 100 events each year, and fall is typically its busiest time. In addition to its monthly classic film series, the theater screens films as part of the Tallgrass Film Festival in October. Other upcoming events include Alton Brown on Oct. 6, Elvis Costello on Oct. 8, Boz Scaggs on Oct. 23 and Lewis Black on Nov. 18. See the complete schedule at wichitaorpheum.com.

    Stiefel Theatre (Salina)

    The Stiefel Theatre opened in downtown Salina in 1931 as the Fox-Watson Theater, an art deco venue that showed mostly movies until it closed in 1987. It remained dark until a nonprofit restoration group began work in 1997 and reopened it in 2003.

    The completely renovated theater seats 1,287 and has one of the busiest schedules among the state’s historic venues. Among the Stiefel’s upcoming shows are ZZ Top on Sept. 21; Martina McBride on Sept. 23; an evening of rock, blues and folk with Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite on Oct. 22; humor writer David Sedaris on Oct. 30; and the Goo Goo Dolls on Nov. 7. A full schedule is available at stiefeltheatre.org.

  • St. Paul, MN – St. Paul’s Palace Theatre renovation budget grows by $1 million

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    From The Pioneer Press: Following legal mediation between the city of St. Paul and First Avenue/JAM Productions, the budget for renovation of St. Paul’s Palace Theatre is going up $1 million — again.

    The projected cost of converting the old vaudeville stage into a modern concert hall about twice the size of First Avenue in Minneapolis grew from an original budget of $12 million to $14.6 million last year, requiring a quick cash infusion of $1.7 million grudgingly approved by the St. Paul City Council.

    The new budget will be about $15.6 million.

    “The last budget had contingency (funds) in it,” said St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority Director Jonathan Sage-Martinson. “A couple of things have happened, and we’ve spent that contingency.”

    He added: “Our work will be done in early December. We’re down to the last painting and patching. As we’ve gotten there, we think we’re going to need another $1 million.”

    Among the curve balls: Contractor bids for aspects of the restoration came back higher than expected, and a few unanticipated expenses were added to the design.