Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 2, 2013

Dec. events focus on theater

PRINCETON — As JoAnna Fredeking was researching the old Royal Theater earlier this year for this year’s holiday ornament — a fundraiser for the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce — she came upon some information concerning the theater’s opening.

“It opened on July 28, 1911. The first event was a stage show,” Fredeking said. “I remember going there when I was a child. You could get in the theater for 10 cents and stay all day.”

The Royal Theater became the Lavon Theater in the 1960s and later became home to the JVC Crusade. In recent months, through the efforts of Community Connections, the old theater is taking on new life, and as part of that rebirth, is now called the Renaissance Theater.

Greg Puckett, executive director of Community Connections, announced the new name for the old theater on Nov. 16, just prior to the southern West Virginia premiere showing of “A Christmas Tree Miracle,” a film starring Princeton native Kevin Sizemore.

“Kevin and I have been in contact every day or two since the premiere by phone, on Facebook or by email,” Puckett said. “He is really interested in being a part of what’s taking place on Mercer Street and in the downtown.”

Community Connections will be receiving an allotment of 200 DVDs of the movie, produced by Route 40 Films and Fly Over Films. “The hope is that we’ll get them by Thursday,” Puckett said, adding that the DVDs are already available online.

The Renaissance Theater will also have two pre-Christmas showings of the movie on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 and 21.

“Delnora Reed has made a commitment to do a show right before each of the showings,” Puckett said. “We’re limited to just 250 seats, but it will be fun.

“On Dec. 21, I’m doing another fundraiser,” Puckett said. “I’m going to sit in the bucket of a bucket truck on Mercer Street in front of the theater until we raise $10,000,” Puckett said. “The goal is to remove all the seats from the theater at the first of the year and raise funds to replace the seats by March 1, 2014.

“I’ll be going up in the truck at noon no matter how cold it is,” Puckett said. Community Connections is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Contributions are tax deductible.

Puckett said that plans are rapidly coming together for a huge New Year’s Eve celebration on Mercer Street and in the Renaissance Theater. “We will have two great bands and block off the whole downtown for the event,” he said. “Ramey’s is a sponsor. Admission will be $15 per person with free sparkling cider at midnight.”

He said Community Connections is also working to have a ball drop as well as a 10-minute fireworks display.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.comꆱ

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