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Show goes on at The Capitol

January 14, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -

After nearly nine months of refurbishing, repainting and regrouping from an April ceiling collapse that closed its box office, The Capitol Theatre reopened Friday night to a full audience.

"The Best of Broadway Featuring the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" - the first show at the 852-seat theater since part of its ceiling collapsed April 30, injuring several audience members - was a sellout.

Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., which owns the theater, addressed a crowd of nearly 200 people gathered for a reception before the show, thanking countless workers, contractors, volunteers and contributors for their help in bringing the theater back to life.

"It's my fervent hope that you're going to feel like we took it back to its 1927 grandeur," Cullinane said.

John Athey, owner of Ringler Restoration, and graphic artist Rick Komarinski "did a paint archeology" of the theater's ceiling, peeling back 79 years of paint to get to its original colors, Athey said.

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The theater was painted in shades of gray, mauve and turquoise.

He said photographs taken of the theater in the 1920s also helped them restore its original appearance.

Cullinane said the grill of the theater's organ was refurbished along with a number of other detailed upgrades.

The restoration cost more than $320,000, Cullinane said.

Theatergoers were pleased to have The Capitol Theatre back.

Janis Stannert grew up in Chambersburg and went to the theater when it showed movies.

"It's come back tremendously," Stannert said. "A lot of people want to see it flourish."

Sam Worley, a former Franklin County Commissioner and member of the theater's board of directors, said it "speaks well" that so many people turned out to support the theater's comeback, even after an extended break.

C.Q. Smith, secretary of the Capitol Theatre Center Foundation, was a partial owner of the theater in the 1970s when it was a "full-fledged movie theater."

Smith said the restoration exceeded his expectations.

"My initial hope was that we could get the ceiling repaired and make the theater look decent," Smith said. "It's way beyond my wildest dreams."

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