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Woodsfield’s Monroe Theatre gearing up for big holiday season

WOODSFIELD — Yeoman’s work is often referred to effort produced above and beyond what is expected, and that is being seen at the Monroe Theatre after its 40 plus-years of dormancy.

Volunteer Mick Schumacher wants people to see the progress even though shows are being put on while work is ongoing.

“It just makes an exciting project more complicated,” Shumacher, a member of the Monroe Arts Council, said.

He added that it might be difficult for the public to rally around something like this unless they see actual progress. The council has been producing a variety of shows from religious to Broadway, calling it an “all around family show.” Over 50 shows that have been scheduled this year alone.

Three hundred temporary seats are in place with an ultimate goal of 600 that will hopefully be topped off with 250 balcony seats. That would be possible if the group can secure a grant, Schumacher explained. Work this year includes installation of two Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms and four furnaces even though a grant pursued earlier was denied.

Other grants include the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Grant for around $900,000 for Center Township and Woodsfield. Of that, $280,000 is going into the theater, with $80,000 for a new roof and the additional $200,000 for outside masonry work.

Schumacher said the group has around 15 volunteers that make up a reliable core with others flowing in and out of their circle. Two local contractors were hired to construct the restrooms but other than that, it’s all them. A fundraiser produced about $16,000 toward the furnaces and another $4,000 came in a grant. Cabinetry with concessions and counter tops are next but the big haul came in the form of 600 seats donated by the Palace Theatre in Columbus.

“How many do you need?” the group was asked.

“How many do you have?” was the answer.

“You’re the first person to call, you can have them all,” a friend of Schumacher’s told him.

Three separate trips to Columbus with two box trucks did the job, and seats are stored inside the lobby for now. Those will be reupholstered and are of the old-fashioned type that sit lower to the ground but they will work, he said.

Another fundraiser the group came up with was for people who chose to place a tag on seats, naming them for someone they wanted to remember, for example. A total of $60,000 was raised after selling around 350 tags, and the group will do this for the 250 balcony seats as well, if the council can raise the money to put those in.

Also, a cafe and pastry shop are planned in the lobby for operation during the week but to be set aside when movies are shown. Schumacher said the old Keevert Bakery handed over some recipes for the group to use that will hopefully be opening in the near future.

He said another $10,000 grant has just been secured for that purpose.

When asked about all this support and fundraising money coming from outside, Schumacher acknowledged that during the June Nashville show featuring former Statler Brothers’ member Jimmy Fortune, 89 percent of attendees coming from places such as Columbus and Pittsburgh and the West Virginia cities of Charleston and Parkersburg.

The theater has a full schedule for the holiday, following the Sure Shot Band’s appearance Friday. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, is “Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure” movie. At 7 p.m. Dec. 11 is A Monroe Theatre Christmas Show.

On Friday, Dec. 17, it’s an Anna and Elsa meet and greet from “Frozen II” at 6 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 18 features a Christmas Handbell Concert at 7 p.m.

And Friday, Dec. 31, ends the year with the Light up the Square Luminary Event.

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