GROVE CITY – As the next round of renovations starts at the Guthrie Theatre, the crew behind the curtain says they’re very happy with how things have been going since opening night.
“It was great to see the community come together,” Bill Grigsby said of April 26, when the theater reopened with “Avengers: Endgame.”
Grigsby is the chief financial officer and business manager for Veritas Arts and the Grove City theater, which was closed for part of 2018 because of water damage.
Spencer T. Folmar, the Clearfield native who bought the Guthrie in late 2018, is president of Veritas Arts, a nonprofit that runs the theater.
The organization continues to spruce up the theater, located at 232 S. Broad St. Recently completed work includes gray paint on the brick exterior plus a refurbished “theatre” sign, new paint on the marquee, new chandeliers inside the theater area, and a fully-stocked concession stand.
“From top to bottom we have really given this place a fresh look,” Grigsby said.
The gray, white, black and red details make the building stand out, and visitors have said they’re glad that the building’s historical aspect has been maintained, he said.
While they were preparing to paint the exterior, they found a faded “GT” symbol on an upper corner of the building. That was a nice surprise and has been touched up.
The response from patrons has been great so far, and that first night went better than expected, Grigsby said.
“The line was not getting shorter. The whole weekend was great,” he said.
It was cold and raining, but people started lining up at 10:30 a.m. The Guthrie sold out the first showing of “Avengers” and quickly added a second.
Multiple showings that weekend sold out, and they ran out of food even though they had been worried about being overstocked.
The new “Aladdin” movie has done well, and the Guthrie is gearing up for this weekend’s release of “Toy Story 4.” The ticket booth opens an hour before the first showing, and tickets can also be purchased online.
Movie-goers will notice that the stage at the front of the theater is under repair. It’s being rebuilt with help from George Junior Republic students, who also made several wooden “GT” signs for inside the building, Grigsby said.
“They’re excited to be part of history,” he said.
Veritas Arts plans to host live events once the stage is done, and they’d like to help organize a community theater group.
People are enjoying the balcony area with new reclining seats, and the concession stand – there’s a variety of drinks, George Howe coffee, chocolate from Shannon’s Kandy Kitchen, pizza, chicken tenders, nachos and more, and a large supply of everyone’s favorite movie treat – popcorn.
Grigsby said he had fun taste-testing about 20 different kinds of popcorn to find just the right one.
There’s merchandise with the Guthrie’s new logo – a reusable tumbler for $20 that can be refilled for $2, and a coffee mug for $15.
“Buying these helps support the Guthrie,” he said.
New soundproofing panels have been added, the sound system has been updated, and posters featuring classic movies decorate the theater along with several pieces that feature Veritas Arts productions like “Shooting Heroin,” which the Guthrie will show.
Veritas Arts is still trying to secure a liquor license – adult beverages will be restricted to the balcony, which is for ages 18 and up – and they’re hoping to turn the exterior marquee into a digital display, Grigsby said.
Phase two of the renovations includes replacing the chairs on the theater floor. Like previous renovations, Veritas Arts is reaching out to the community for support.
There have been several fundraisers, and the “Save the Guthrie” campaign is ongoing. Grigsby thanked donors plus the volunteers and employees who dedicate their time to the theater.
The Guthrie is looking for more volunteers and staff members, he added.
Major sponsors are Nonni’s Corner Trattoria, Pepsi, Terra Nova House, Blackout Burger Bar, Forta Corp., Broad Street Grille, Busy Beaver, b’gifted, Joden World Resources, Hampton Inn and Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and Candlewood Suites.
Grigsby said patrons should be on the lookout for special activities related to highly-anticipated films like “Toy Story 4” and “The Lion King.”
For this weekend, there will be a “Toy Story” photo booth, and each child will receive a kit, while supplies last, to assemble their own “Forky,” a spork that is a new character in the franchise.
“We’re going all out,” he said.
For more information about the Guthrie Theatre, call 724-458-9420, visit www.theguthrie.com or check out their Facebook page.