Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Night at the Theatre

There's a yellow rose on my kitchen table tonight, and there's a story behind it.

On April 13th, 1909, a civic arts theatre was opened in a small town in southwestern Illinois. Seventy-five years later, it closed. Another quarter of a century passed until, with the support of the local community, a team of dedicated citizens reopened the Wildey Theatre. It re-opened tonight, and I was there. The mayor gave a speech, oversize checks were presented, a short film was shown, and the local high school kids sang a couple of great songs from the musical Hairspray. One of them was "You Can't Stop The Beat!"

They brought the house down, those EHS students. They were really good - and anybody who reads this blog who remembers the shows at PHS (Go Tigers!) that is saying something.

The film that was shown was a sort of mini-documentary. There were pictures from the past, and a lot of interviews with local folks. It sounds like a lot of people had their first dates at the Wildey. Some memorable quotes from the evening:

The president of Friends of the Wildey: "The best fund-raiser was held last fall at the high school. The kids put on a performance that raised $10,000. What moved me was watching a group of young people work so hard to save a building that hadn't been open their entire lives."

Another quote from the tuxedo-wearing gentleman (complete with bow tie): "When the Wildey opened on April 13, 1909, the local paper reported that man in charge of the organization wore a tuxedo and 'every lady received a yellow rose'. After I came across that tidbit in the archives, I thought 'We have to do that!' And so every woman who walked in the door this evening was given a yellow rose!"

Among the upcoming events at the theatre are local music groups, stage productions and films set to be shown. The first film on the bill? Singin' In The Rain. (Sissy, I wish you were here. We'd totally go.) The next? Another classic, Casablanca. And lest anyone think old movies are going to be the only ones played, think again. Also upcoming are The Dark Knight and The Matrix. (Bud, I thought of you when I saw that. No idea why.)

I think I just found my new (old?) favorite place to go for something different.



  1. This sounds like a really cool place to go. Can we make a date next time we are in town?? xoxoxoxo

  2. Yes!! Please!! Sister date! Maybe with (non) alcoholic drinks in the mix? :D

  3. What a co-inky-dink. The Wildey was opened the same year as the R&S Building in Joplin, MO (home of T&S) and the same year as Grandpa B came through Ellis Island. What is it when things come together....oh, yeah, the Bermuda Triangle....