News Column

Plaza Theatre has 80-year run so far

August 9, 2014

By Gina Kinslow, Glasgow Daily Times, Ky.

Aug. 09--GLASGOW -- The Plaza Theatre is celebrating its 80th anniversary this month with free movies and a concert by country-rock group The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

"We chose them as the band for this concert and this celebration because they are truly an all-American band and they fit our patronage very well," said theater director Jennifer Moonsong. "We've had a lot of requests for them from our patrons."

The Grammy-award winning band, which will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, formed in 1966 and has seen many members come and go through the years, but has kept a core group since 1980. It is known for a string of hits including "Fishin' In the Dark," and "Mr. Bojangles," according to the band's website.

The band is touring to promote its most recent album, "Speed of Life," released in 2009 on Sugar Hill Records, the website said.

A silent auction will be held during the concert, featuring items donated by local businesses. Proceeds from the auction will help fund the restoration of the theater's marquee room on the second floor -- the only room not redone by the city, which owns the theater, during an 18-month renovation. The theater reopened in April 2005 after the renovation had been completed.

"We began raising money for (the restoration) last year at the Kentucky HeadHunter/Exile concert. After the silent auction, we hope to have enough to begin that project and finish it in the near future," Moonsong said.

When the renovation is complete, the marquee room will feature a shower.

"Even though we rent hotel rooms and lodging for our artists, some of their technical writers require that we have an in-facility shower and that has kept us from getting some artists that we would have otherwise been able to book," she said. "So, we think it's a facility upgrade that will help us in a lot of ways."

Moonsong is hoping to get the work done through in-kind contributions and only pay for materials and supplies. The estimated cost for the project is about $5,000.

"I do hope that by this time next year that everything will be complete," she said.

As for free movies, the theater started its celebration earlier this month by showing "Forrest Gump" and will continue with "The Little Rascals" on Aug. 30.

"We wanted to do something specific for children," Moonsong said, explaining the decision to show "The Little Rascals."

"It's great to see new generations of kids coming out to the Plaza. They might not otherwise be here if we did the older movies."

The Plaza has a history of showing free movies.

Glasgow resident Maude Isenberg recently recalled watching one as a young student.

"Jigger Aspley, the owner, every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, would invite the whole Glasgow school to come down in classes," Isenberg said. "I think what we did for a fee was to bring canned goods and he would show a free movie. That was always a thrill."

The theater will show "The Cat's Paw" at 7 p.m. on Aug. 23.

"The first movie that was ever played at the Plaza was on Aug. 23 in 1934," Moonsong said.

That first movie was "The Cat's Paw."

"We are doing it for a quarter per ticket and 10 cents for popcorn just exactly like they did in 1934," she said. "We found that history record at the Museum of the Barrens in a newspaper article."

Jenny Lu Shireman of Glasgow and her band rent the theater each quarter to present a music show, sometimes featuring local and regional entertainers.

Shireman presented a similar type of show before the theater was remodeled.

"Jenny has had shows there before the city owned it; back when it was in pretty rough shape. She ran her show in the early 1990s and the city took it over and remodeled," said Chad Shireman, her husband, who also serves as the music director for the shows she now does at the theater. "Even though it was in very [bad] shape, it still had the Plaza charm."

When folks ask the Shiremans what makes their musical shows different from others, they tell them it's the theater, Chad Shireman said.

Tickets are still available for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert. Tickets for seats in the front and center sections of the theater are no longer available, however, there are still tickets for sets in the orchestra and balcony areas. Those tickets are $30 each and a $1 historic preservation fee will be added to the price of each ticket purchase.

"There's not a bad seat in the house so we ask everyone to come out and join us," Moonsong said.


(c)2014 the Glasgow Daily Times (Glasgow, Ky.)

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Source: Glasgow Daily Times (KY)

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