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Theater reopening hailed by downtown official

March 24, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For the first time in three months, the historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Chambersburg opened its doors this weekend.

"It is a wonderful space, and it's been closed since before Christmas," Paul Cullinane, director of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., told about a dozen people who gathered at Thursday's semi-annual town meeting.

Renovations to the 1927 theater and expansion along South Main Street began one year ago. Starting with Saturday's 16th annual Exchange Club Comedy & Magic Spectacular, the theater has a slate of shows lined up for April and May, Cullinane said.

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The wooden walkway in front of the theater will begin coming down today, which will make more of the new facade visible from the street.

The grand reopening - a black-tie event for members and donors - will be June 6 and 7, with an opening for the general public June 14.

While pleased with the progress of the work, Cullinane said Downtown Chambersburg Inc. had to take out a $500,000 loan to complete construction, and the agency is still trying to reach its goal of a $2 million endowment that will keep the theater operating indefinitely.

"There is no money for theatrical lights, sound and chairs" for the secondary "black-box" stage, Cullinane said. "But you've got to start somewhere, and we're going to present a beautiful building inside and out."

DCI owns the theater and has taken on the burden of paying the bills when the theater can't.

"The endowment will help with that burden. But right now we will run out of money in the third quarter of 2004" unless the goal is met, Cullinane said, calling on the downtown community to continue contributing.

Once completed in May, the Capitol Theatre Center will house Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts, Caledonia Theatre Company, Chambersburg Ballet Theatre School and Chambersburg Community Theatre.

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