47 W. Main Street,
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The Civil War was a fresh memory when Middletown’s first stage opened in 1863. Back then it was known as the Masonic Hall and Opera House and it flourished as a performing arts cultural center and community meeting place until falling in a spectacular fire in 1918. It wasn’t long however, before a new structure was erected on the site. It too was dedicated to the arts, but with a twist….the focus would be on the recently introduced motion picture. But as fate would have it, that structure went the way of its predecessor, burning to the ground in 1921.
Determined that history would not repeat itself a third time, a shining structure built mostly of concrete and plaster was rebuilt on the site where the others had fallen. It was December 7, 1922, Delaware Day, when crowds were first treated to a glimpse inside the magnificent new Everett Theatre. Designed by noted theater architects Hoffman-Henon Co., this would be a favorite place for everyone in the area to enjoy those new motion pictures as well as the more traditional vaudeville stage performances.
For decades, the Everett Theatre flourished. Those who once stared wide-eyed at the movie screen as children were back again with children of their own. But slowly, drive-ins, shopping malls and television took their toll and the Everett dimmed its lights and shut its doors in 1979.
For the next four years, it sat silently on Middletown’s Main Street, its fine acoustics untested and its beautiful interior crumbling. Thankfully, a group of concerned citizens formed Associated Community Talents, Inc., a non-profit corporation, and purchased the Everett Theatre in 1983, determined to restore Middletown and the Everett Theatre to once again become the center for the performing arts for the community. Renovation and fundraising began.
Today, continuing the tradition of over a century, the Everett Theatre is alive with people and productions that once again bring the world to Middletown. The newly refurbished stage has welcomed the best of Broadway including productions of “Barefoot in the Park”, the steamy “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof”, the raunchy and ribald “Plaza Suite”, and the poignant moments of “Steel Magnolias”, just to name a few.
There’s nothing more exciting than watching the house lights dim, the curtain go up, and the overture begin as you, the audience, prepare to enjoy a wide range of musical production numbers from ‘Bali Hai’ in “South Pacific”, to the robust ‘Drinking Song’ in “The Student Prince”, to the haunting ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
And the theatre tradition begins young in Middletown as the annual Childrens Theatre Workshop introduces children and teens to the thrill of grease paint, footlights, dance, music and drama, both on and off stage.
If you’ve seen “Dead Poets Society” starring Robin Williams, you’ve seen our beloved Everett Theatre featured in the film. And the movies still roll at the Everett Theatre, offering a top-of-the-line projection system with Dolby sound and one of the largest movies screens on the Delmarva Peninsula. Movies from “Forrest Gump” to “Schindler’s List” to the larger than life “Titanic” and the all too real “Saving Private Ryan” have brought the Everett Theatre movie screen to life.
The theatre is also the proud home of a Rogers Trio Organ which is used when showing the early silent films and is also available for concert use and as a prelude to live productions.
The community is proud of the Everett Theatre’s spot on the National Register of Historic Places and cultural arts in all shapes and sizes live on within her walls. Vaudeville lives again through the appearance of local players and community talent, from youngsters to the young at heart, creating riotous, foot stomping, belly laughing and chaotic on-stage reviews. It is now home to special arts programs for the children, the Delaware Theater Association’s annual play festival, movies, concerts, recitals and lectures. In short, it is once again the center for cultural and artistic “happenings” in the Middletown, Odessa and Townsend area.
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