Monday, Jun 24, 2019

Woodstock Theatre hosts grand opening

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Willis Johnson, president of Classic Cinemas, points out historical elements of the Woodstock Theatre’s restored auditorium during the cinema’s grand opening May 22. Independent photo by Ken Farver

From a large gray fortress to a downtown classic, Woodstock Classic Cinemas Theatre presented its nearly finished project at its grand opening celebration May 22.

“That lobby, if you were blindfolded and we took you in there for the first time, you would not know that you were at Woodstock,” said Classic Cinemas marketing manager Mark Mazrimas.

Though minor behind-the-scenes construction will still continue for another month or so, the theater is operating all eight of its screens and recently opened a new lobby and two party rooms. The project of expanding the four-screen cinema began in August 2012.

“It’s been challenging for us, but we’ve kept the theater operating this whole time, which is a challenge for the management and the staff, and we appreciate the patience of our guests,” Mazrimas said. “We’re happy to get there. Now, with new movies opening every week, we have more opportunity than we did last year when we were only operating two auditoriums. It allowed us to have the Orson Welles festival there and allows us to open the major summer movies.”

Mazrimas said guests now can purchase tickets at every box office station, including self-service stations. He said Classic Cinemas owner Willis Johnson plans to bring in as many historic elements as possible to keep with the classic feel, including walls of theater memorabilia and original artifacts like a chandelier and the addition of historic movie posters in the hallways.

“We enjoy architecture, and we enjoy working on older buildings,” Johnson said. “The Woodstock – or The Miller, as it was originally – was really fun. There was some heartache, but overall, a lot of fun. When you stand back and look at it, we think it came out pretty well.”

Johnson said the restoration of the dome and replications of decorative elements like the grilles on the main auditorium walls and the plaster medallions on the ceiling in the lobby were essential to bringing the 1927 Miller Theater, designed by Elmer Behrns, back to life.