News Column

Messiah College's 'Palace' aims to save Carlisle Theatre

May 6, 2013


May 06--A sizable crowd showed up to see the premiere of "Palace," featuring the Carlisle Theatre.

More than 200 people were gathered inside the theater. Some of the moviegoers grabbed their seats early, while others mingled in the lobby. The smell of popcorn permeated throughout the theater. T-shirts, DVDs, Blu-Rays and posters were among some of the merchandise available for purchase.

Christin Kapp had her seat picked out far in the rear of the theater. She played as an extra in the film, and had followed the film's progress on Facebook. She said she was excited to finally see the finished product, but also said the film could serve to help save the theater.

"I've been in one of the theater company's productions, and I really want to see this theater survive, especially with the conversion to digital," Kapp said.

Also in the audience was Mary Stupar, who made the trek from Frederick, Md. Her daughter, Rebecca Dettor, is the girlfriend of Rolando Vega, the film's director. Stupar and Dettor each had small appearances within the film. She, too, saw the importance of preserving local theaters.

"Theaters like this aren't doing all that well ... they might get pushed out of the market for the bigger theaters," Stupar said.

Bravo! Bravo!

The audience erupted with applause once the film's credits began to roll, and once more after they reached their end. The audience was then shown a behind-the-scenes documentary, which showed the film's progress as it was made. More applause, whistles and shouts of encouragement followed.

Matthew Sider, a student at Messiah College, shared in that enthusiastic reception of the film.

"I thought it was really good," he said. "I thought it was a really cool adaptation of the history of movies and how they've progressed."

Dying luxury

Paul Myers, of Carlisle, agreed. The movie served as a trip down memory lane for him. He recalled going to the Carlisle Theatre as a boy to see movies. There was one scene in particular that he related to, he said.

"I identified with the little boy sitting up front, watching the movies, and I remember coming here as a kid and watching the movies," Myers said. "It was sad over the years to see the theater fall into disrepair, but now that it's coming back and it's been refurbished a few years ago ... This is really a gem and a jewel in our community," he said.

Sider had a similar theater in his hometown, which he said was a go-to place. He brought some of his own friends to the premiere that had not yet been to the Carlisle Theatre. He said they enjoyed the atmosphere, that sense of "grandeur" is something he said makes the theater feel like a palace for moviegoers. Sider recognized, however, that the smaller theaters are a dying luxury.

"I think they're dying, and think that's a really sad shame," he said. "The movie showed that they used to be such a big part of our culture back in the day, and that they're starting to get kicked out."

Kapp, however, said she felt that Carlisle was breaking that trend. She said the theater often features live performances, as a well as movies, to keep the historic theater around. Myers agreed.

"The community has rallied and pulled together to update this theater and to use it for a lot of good purposes," he said.

True to life

Sherrie Davis, president of the Carlisle Theatre board, was particularly struck by the film, and called it a "wonderful" film.

"Palace" tells the story of Leo, a projectionist in a 1940s movie theater who becomes a manager and eventual owner of the theater while raising his granddaughter, Melanie. As time goes on, the theater's glory days fade away and it becomes in danger of being demolished. That scenario was one that she said was "true to life" with some of the challenges that the Carlisle Theatre has faced.

"I was sitting here in tears because it is so close to reality," Davis said.

The Save the Carlisle campaign looks to install upgraded digital and sound equipment, along with repairs to keep the theatre in operating order. Donations were taken at the event, with half going to the campaign and the other half going to the Messiah College film department.

One thing that Davis heard from her seat were viewers saying "I remember when...." She saw the film as a reminder of not only how important the Carlisle Theatre is to the community, but also as a way to step back in time and "enjoy things as they used to be."


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