Music and theater and film (oh my)! #WonderWednesday

Music and theater and film (oh my)! #WonderWednesday

March comes in like a lion with a #WonderWednesday filled with outstanding live music, theater, film and more.

Start by upcycling metal goods from the Habitat ReStore with local designer Ben Roth on Wednesday evening. Then get out Thursday for live music with Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli at the Pink Garter Theatre.

Catch Riot Act Inc.’s expansive theater production of The Women running from Thursday to Saturday at Walk Festival Hall. On Friday, celebrate World Wildlife Day with Night of the Wild Cat films presented by Jackson Hole WILD and The Cougar Fund.

Sunday offers free entrance for area locals to the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s event First Sunday, with music by the Jackson Hole Chorale and a hands-on shadow box activity. The weekend lingers long with a Monday night show by the award-winning American Folk duo Shovels & Rope at the Center for the Arts.

There’s so much more going on this week! Visit to find it all.

Developer plans to revive Hollywood Theatre, add condos

Developer plans to revive Hollywood Theatre, add condos

A development company has applied to the City of Vancouver to restore and revive the former Hollywood Theatre on West Broadway near Macdonald Street, and build an adjoining mixed-use retail and condo building.

The company, 4184 Investments, Ltd., is proposing that the theatre – which was built in 1935 and closed in 2011 when the building was sold – be restored to its former glory, and includes a comprehensive operational plan in its application.

article continues below

The operating plan says, “We will re-introduce The Hollywood Theatre back into Vancouver’s consciousness by creating and operating a beautifully renovated, state-of-the-art performing arts centre dedicated to bringing the creative arts to the local community.”

The plan sets out proposed programming for of the new Hollywood Theatre, and also names the team proposed to take on the theatre’s operation, including Sean Mawhinney, current building manager and head of maintenance for both the Commodore Ballroom and Vogue Theatre on Granville Street.

The developer is also proposing adding an adjoining six-storey building with 4,423 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and five storeys of market residential units above, comprising 40 condos named “The Residences at Hollywood.” There will also be two levels of underground parking for residents.

Hollywood Theatre redevelopment cropped
Street view of proposed Hollywood Theatre redevelopment to the north. Image via City of Vancouver planning

The six-storey height of the mixed-use building has been carefully engineered to minimize shadows on the residential properties behind the new building to the north, according to the development application.

Under the site’s C2-C zoning, the proposed application may be permitted by the decision of the City’s Development Permit Board.

A community open house has been scheduled from 4.30pm-7:30pm on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at St. James Community Centre Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue.

Alabama Power Service Organization brings up curtain on Tallassee theatre

Alabama Power Service Organization brings up curtain on Tallassee theatre

Walking into the Mt. Vernon Theatre in Tallassee is like stepping back to 1935.

Melinda Landers-Emfinger and other Alabama Power employees helped usher in a new era for the theatre.

Crowds have responded to the re-opening of the Mt. Vernon Theatre in Tallassee. (Meg McKinney / Alabama NewsCenter)

Mt. Vernon Theatre hadn’t seen customer foot traffic since its 1968 closing. But after years of hard work to restore the building to meet city and state codes, the theatre opened to much fanfare, with about 500 guests Jan. 20.

Landers-Emfinger and a crew from the Southern Division Chapter-Tallassee subarea for the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) helped smooth the way. Every ticket was sold and the lobby was full for the opening night of “Dear Mama: Letters and Music from World War II” by local playwright Adrian Lee Borden.

The APSO team – Auburn Office Manager Rod Cater; Customer Care Specialist Missy Coker – South Residential Center, Southern Division Office; Tallassee Customer Service Representative Landers-Emfinger and Thurlow Dam Superintendent Joel Johnson – was there to greet guests, take tickets, usher patrons to their seats and work in the concession stand.

Helping with opening night was a labor of love for Landers-Emfinger.

“The reopening of Mt. Vernon Theatre is a really big deal for Tallassee,” said Landers-Emfinger, whose husband, Mark, also a Southern Division APSO member, served customers during the evening show. “We’re trying to get the heartbeat of our downtown beating again.

Mt. Vernon Theatre in Tallassee re-opened with a performance of “Dear Mama: Letters and Music from World War II” by local playwright Adrian Lee Borden. (Meg McKinney / Alabama NewsCenter)

“It’s a close-knit community; everyone knows everybody,” said Landers-Emfinger, who has worked at the Tallassee Office for about 10 years. “If you have bad news, you’re here to kind of pick somebody up, and if it’s good news, we want to celebrate with you.”

The theatre’s reopening is a cause for celebration, Landers-Emfinger believes.

“This is going to help the community as far as having a nice venue and will generate dollars for small local venues,” she said. “We’re trying to get a mixture of different businesses to come to Tallassee.”

Reopening the old, beloved theatre

Jan Autrey, chairwoman of the theatre operations board, was instrumental in re-opening the Mt. Vernon Theatre in Tallassee. (Meg McKinney / Alabama NewsCenter)

When the theatre first opened its doors, it was a perfect fit for the small mill town. Built by Mt. Vernon Textile Co. for its employees and the community, the building is a Tallassee icon with its sturdy, 17-inch-thick walls. Though the building was closed for 50 years, its foundation stands strong, Tallassee resident Jan Autrey said.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re back,” said Autrey, a member of the theatre’s executive board. “It took a long time to get it finished, and we’re so proud of it.”

About 10 years ago, Autrey said, a group began making plans to refurbish the 7,600-square-foot building. The Community Development Corp. and the Tallassee Historical Preservation Society played a large part in ensuring the theatre design stayed true to its roots. Many Tallassee residents donated their time and services to the restoration.

“The stage was rotting and we had termite damage,” said Autrey, chairwoman of the theatre operations board. “This has been an expensive project – we originally planned to spend $750,000, and we’re running out of funds. We added a new electrical system and plumbing, and brand new HVAC. We’ve got quite a sophisticated sound and lighting system.

“We’ll have a nice, pretty courtyard for the outside, where people can go and sit,” said Autrey, who was raised in Tallassee. “That’s planned for late spring. We want to do a fundraiser to replace the downstairs seats.”

Wooden seats were recently purchased to fill the downstairs theatre, while the upstairs balcony has cushioned seats.

APSO volunteers helped re-open the Mt. Vernon Theatre. (Meg McKinney / Alabama NewsCenter)

Planned as a multipurpose cultural arts center, the venue will be used on alternate weekends for children’s movies and classics for adults. With the success of “Dear Mama,” Autrey wants to continue hosting plays once a month.

“We hope to provide a cultural boost our town has missed,” she said. “This theatre belongs to the community, and we hope it will be an impetus for economic growth.”

Landers-Emfinger echoed those hopes.

“I am so excited about the reopening of Mt. Vernon Theatre,” Landers-Emfinger said. “It’s bringing a piece of Tallassee’s history to life.

“I love being in APSO,” she said. “It’s our opportunity to give back, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Campaign for restoration of Lincoln Heights started

Campaign for restoration of Lincoln Heights started

The legacy of Lincoln Heights School in Wilkesboro was celebrated during an event with a full house at Rickards Chapel African American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on Sunday afternoon.

The event was also the beginning of a campaign to restore the 94-year-old brick building, recently approved by the state of North Carolina for the National Register of Historic Places.

This protected status for the building still needs federal government approval, announced Dr. Alexander Erwin during the two-hour program.

Lincoln Heights School, for grades 1-11, was completed in 1924 and educated thousands of African-American students. It was the only school for black youths in Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Surry and Yadkin counties for many years.

“Where would your family, your children and the community be without Lincoln Heights?” asked Erwin.

The school was funded through the Rosenwald Fund, which provided grants for 5,300 schools in the South for African American students.

Sixteen of those schools, including Lincoln Heights, were brick. There were six other Rosenwald schools built in Wilkes, but Lincoln Heights is the only one still standing.

“The other five were demolished and have fallen into decay. We cannot let Lincoln Heights fall into decay,” stressed Erwin.

The school cost $18,000 when it was built. The Rosenwald Fund provided $1,500 and the rest came from the community and the Wilkes County Schools.

The school was named Lincoln Heights by Ruben White, a member of the school board. He suggested the name “to encourage our children to reach the heights of Lincoln.”

The building could be used as a community center for youth where they could do their homework and also as a senior center.

“There are limitless possibilities,” said the Rev. Richard Watts, minister of Rickards Chapel and a recently retired Forsyth County principal.

Watts retired as principal of Atkins Academic and Technology High School, which was also originally a Rosenwald-funded school.

“They had a vision to keep the school alive and we should keep Lincoln Heights alive also,” stressed Watts.

School memories

Margie Howell, a 1952 graduate of Lincoln Heights high school, remembers her long bus ride each morning and afternoon. “It was 50 miles round trip,” said Howell. “I passed several white schools on my way to Lincoln Heights including Mount Pleasant, Ferguson and Wilkesboro.

“Children would leave at 5 a.m. in the morning and get back at 5 p.m. at night,” said Howell.

She remembers Elizabeth Grinton, her eighth-grade teacher, as a particularly motivating teacher, a comment repeated by several speakers.

“My mother died when I was in the eighth grade and Mrs. Grinton was a mentor and great friend through my life,” said Howell. 

Her memories of lunch room meals of pimento cheese sandwiches, salmon patties and peanut butter sandwiches brought several comments from the crowd.

“Seeing my former classmates gives me joy,” exclaimed Paulette Turner, a 1962 graduate of Lincoln Heights High School and part of the largest graduating class.

She remembered playing in the Rhythm Band which led to her always loving music. “We always felt safe. There was plenty of love from our teachers,” said Turner.

“We joined everything…band, chorus and clubs because we got to travel for free. Our class was also part of the sit-in movements under Dr. King. We were members of the NAACP and wanted to make a difference,” said Turner.

She remembers one incident with three other classmates, including her cousin Floyd Barber. The four went to drug stores in North Wilkesboro to see if they could be served a meal at the lunch counter.

“One of the owners was very nice and said he would serve us, if the other three agreed,” said Turner.

Their venture into a local movie theatre was not so positive, however. “He dressed us down,” remembered Turner.

“Lincoln Heights shaped our lives,” said Turner. “If it wasn’t for Elizabeth Grinton and Fay Byrd, who fought to keep Lincoln Heights from being torn down in 1984, we would have lost it.

“Please support us now to keep Lincoln Heights open,” said Turner, a member of the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corp. who manage the school.

She encouraged the crowd to attend the meetings of the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corp. on the third Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at the school.

Ann Watkins, a 1958 graduate of Lincoln Heights High School and Floyd Barber, a 1962 graduate also spoke.

“Lincoln Heights needs you. It is the foundation for so many of us,” said Barber.

The program on Sunday was the sixth annual Wilkes Black Pioneers Program. Past honorees are Deneen Graham Kerns, Paul Robinson Jr., Elizabeth Grinton, Faye Hill Hairston, Leroy Harris, the Rev. William Rowe, Dr. Alexander Erwin, Catherine H. Barber, Pauline Whittington, Lady Sara Lou Harris Carter, the Rev. Richard Watts Jr., Bessie Harris, Luther Parks, Sam Dowell, Helena Barber, Felix Stevens, the Rev. Richard Harris II, Dr. John Walter Paisley, the Rev. Millard Harris, Robert Thomas, Ella Jean Williams, Jordan Harris, James Ray Harris Sr., School in Wilkes, Harrison Anderson, Carrie Ruth Harris, Joseph Thomas Redding, Margie Howell, Robert and Lester “Shorty” Wilfong, WATCO Cleaning-Ernest Coles and Marty Watkins, John Ander Harris, Rufus Wilborn, Glenda Denny Adams, Queen Blackwell, Hazel Chapman, Mary Johnson Crank, Brenda Adams Dobbins, Dr. Bobby N. Graham, Jean Walker Graham, Camie Dean Harris, Wilton Mitchell, Sylvia Robinson, Anne Watkins and Jane Wilborn.

Sherman Avenue Playhouse Theatre brought back to life

Sherman Avenue Playhouse Theatre brought back to life

The plan is to show independent films seven days a week with matinees, evening and late-night showings. Tickets for Princess members in Waterloo are $8 and $12 for nonmembers.

Wendy Tutt said she was impressed with the Cotton Factory, a large repurposed former industrial site with artist studios, workshops and other entrepreneurs, up the street.

The Playhouse will be a welcome addition to the area, says Rachel Braithwaite, executive director of the Barton Village BIA. “It’s a very big tourist attraction … I really see it filling that gap.”

When the Playhouse reopens in midsummer, it won’t be the only old movie house in town. A charitable group has been busy working on the 1930s-era Westdale theatre on the west side of the city near McMaster.

Odette, who is from Kitchener, believes Hamilton has a movie theatre deficit. “There’s room for lots more cinema in this city.”

Locals drive to Waterloo, Guelph and Oakville to catch films that don’t make it to Hamilton’s multiplexes, he says.

For a time, the Playhouse’s staple was pornography.

But it also holds an important place in the history of organized labour in Canada. In 1946, Stelco workers voted to walk off the job there, igniting a strike that saw employees push for better wages, a 40-hour work week and union contributions.

The Playhouse has a tired look from the outside, with its vintage sign hanging over the sidewalk. Inside, it opens up with a splendrous high ceiling ribbed with floral plaster motifs. Originally, there were about 600 seats and a wooden floor. A concrete floor and cast-iron seats were put in during a 1950s renovation.

The Tutts plan to starting pulling out the small, uncomfortable seats in March (there will be a seat giveaway for nostalgic fans) and replace them with about 300 larger, comfier ones.

A new screen will be built across a reduced stage and a new projector will be installed in the upstairs booth. New sound systems will be mounted to the side walls and back.

Wendy Tutt says the Playhouse is of a disappearing vintage. “There’s maybe a handful in Canada that are this old, but ones with this kind of detail, the plaster work intact, it’s so rare.”

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

Pin It on Pinterest