Egyptian Theatre Open House Thursday

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The Historic Egyptian Theatre in Downtown DeKalb will host an open house on Thursday, September 22 to showcase and celebrate the completion of major restoration projects this summer.

Nearly $100,000 worth of restoration work was completed in all of the lobby areas on the ornamental plasterwork and decorative painting.  While there was plenty of general wear and tear in the lobby areas there was also significant water damage that had occurred over the years but has now been addressed.

The theatre sound system was completely replaced this summer and a brand new state of the art sound system was installed.  Patrons who attended some of the first events of the fall season are already raving about the improvement to the sound.  The Middlewest Music & Arts Festival that was recently held in Downtown DeKalb and hosted multiple bands in the Egyptian Theatre was able to utilize the entire sound system without having to bring in additional equipment.  The replacement of the previous sound system that was installed in the early 1980’s is a tremendous benefit to the dozens of community groups that use the theatre each year, as well as has the potential to attract more national touring acts.

Quite possibly the most significant improvement made this summer is the replacement of the theatre seats which were the original seats from 1929.  The historic theatre seats were sold off to the community in June to make way for the new seats which were designed to be nearly identical to the original seats.  This project would not have been possible without the incredible dedication and hard work of the Egyptian Theatre Restoration Committee who lead the Egyptian Theatre Seating Sponsorship Campaign over the past few years.

All of these projects would not have been possible without the continued support of the DeKalb community including individuals, families, organizations, businesses, foundations, corporations and the City of DeKalb.  There will be a special VIP and Seat Donor reception from 4:30pm-6:30pm on September 22.  Those that helped donate to the Seating Campaign are invited to this reception as a thank you for your support and to try out the new seats.

The open house for the general public will be from 6:30pm-8:30pm on September 22.  Light refreshments will be provided.  The theatre will be open for the public to view along with a special exhibit in the Egyptian Theatre Art Gallery featuring items from the theatre archives featuring photographs of the interior and exterior of the theatre through the years as well as news articles, movie & show posters, and a rarely seen collection of signed vaudeville performer photographs from the early years of the Egyptian Theatre.

The theatre opened on December 10, 1929, showing silent films during the week and vaudeville performances on the weekends. In the forties and fifties, the Egyptian concentrated mostly on movies, with an occasional live event. By the sixties, the Egyptian was mostly a movie house, although some exceptions did occur. It was during this time that Senator John F. Kennedy made an appearance to a packed house during a campaign stop in DeKalb.  By the mid seventies, the Egyptian was a ghost of its previous splendor. The plaster walls and interior motifs were crumbling away, the seats were in disrepair, the plumbing rarely worked, the boiler was no longer functioning, and there were holes in the ceiling.

In 1977, the Egyptian Theatre was closed and the property given over to the city of DeKalb. Former Mayor Judy King called a meeting at City Hall on March 1, 1978, to explore the possibilities of community support of saving the Egyptian Theatre.  A group of 35 persons who met that night paved the way for the formation of the non-profit organization now known as Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre, Inc. (P.E.T.).  P.E.T. took control of the Egyptian Theatre in 1978 and in 1982 was able to complete a $2.125 million renovation of the theatre.

Currently the Egyptian Theatre is home to 25+ community organizations that utilize the theatre every year.  In the 2010-2011 season there were over 120 events attracting more than 30,000 people.  The theatre is almost entirely volunteer run with over 250 volunteers a year on average contributing over 5,000 hours of service. The Egyptian Theatre is  located at 135 N. 2nd Street in Downtown DeKalb, IL.

When: Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time: VIP & Seat Donor Reception (4:30pm-6:30pm)

Open House for General Public (6:30pm-8:30pm)

Cost: FREE

For more information visit the theatre website at www.egyptiantheatre.org or call the theatre at (815)758-1215.

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