Royal Theatre

111 S. Market Street,
Benton, AR 72015

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Royal Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This downtown theater has been in constant operation since the 1920’s. It opened as the Imp Theatre, on Market Street. In the 1950’s, the owners acquired the neon sign from the Royal Theatre in Little Rock and remodeled the entrance.

In the 1990’s the family owned building was sold to Jerry Van Dyke (Dick’s brother and Luther on ‘Coach’). Jerry opened a soda shop next door and operated the theater as a joint movie house/live venue. When Jerry moved to Mexico, he gave the theater to a local community theater, who assumed the name the Royal Players.

The Royal Theatre no longer shows films as the screens were removed and projectors sold before the transfer to its current owners. The Royal Players have completed several projects to preserve the theater. Most of the original fixtures are still in place and an old doorless safe labeled ‘Imp’ is in the upstairs office.

An interesting note, the Royal Theatre was originally one screen with a balcony. At some point in time the balcony was enclosed and small screen installed. The original projection booth was used to show films there and a second booth was constructed downstairs for the big screen.

Contributed by Cole Wakefield

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 17, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Here is a photo of the Royal Theater.

ekauffm on July 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm

To answer R. Robinson’s question….Sadly Warren Lee passed away in 1999. He was my beloved grandfather! I miss him and the old days at the theatre more and more. I am the daughter of Randy Kauffman who also owned the theatre in its later years.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

This is an updated link for the Royal Players website.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 25, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Here is a September 2008 photo.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

The architects Frank Ginocchio and Edwin Cromwell need to be added. This site has two more photos.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Here is a January 2008 article.

TLSLOEWS on June 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Nice old school looking theatre.

bentonroyal on August 7, 2013 at 2:23 am

Greetings all, I see there haven’t been many comments left on this page in quite some time. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Timothy A Samuelson. I am taking over as the Facilities Director at the Royal. This building has been important throughout my life and it is truly an honor to be contributing to its history and lineage by adding my mark. I would like to ask that anyone that has pictures or stories about this space please contact me via my email: . These past few weeks have been very hectic for our organization. We began the initial phases of the renovation and restoration of this magnificent space beginning with the upstairs office. I can confirm the stories that the safe is still in the room and is, in fact missing the door (I was really hoping to find it, but my hunt has yielded no fruit) On top of locating the safe, we uncovered the original wall paneling that had been hidden away behind layers of cover-ups. We also located the bell system that was used to page between downstairs and upstairs. I’m having a small display case for the bell made and it will be proudly displayed on the desk. The desk in the office is also the original desk. (signed and dated by the builder in 1919) All items uncovered including the carpet that was installed in the 1949 remodel will be kept in the closest condition to original as possible. As we complete the office in the next few days, we will begin to reach out into the rest of the upstairs space which has been closed to patrons for as long as I can remember. Our plans for the upstairs space are a small black-box theatre space that can be used for smaller performances, recitals, movies, lectures, and many more events. This upstairs will become the brain of our youth theatre program, the Young Players. My plans are to establish a sanctuary for the youth of the community to take place in after school programs geared towards education and the arts. Any help that anybody could offer us in this time of progress would be greatly appreciated as we would like to have all work on the building and a second space we are attempting to acquire complete for the 100th anniversaries of the spaces. If you would like to get involved in our project, whether it be in the form of donations or the contribution of a story, please feel free to contact me. My email again is . Thank you all

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