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Beach Theatre updates: Garland festival, construction progress

Bill DeYoung

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"The Wizard of Oz" will screen June 1 at Horan Park, St. Pete Beach. Warner Bros.

For the first time in almost a decade, the Beach Theatre name will be associated with movies this summer.

They won’t be on the screen at the 82-year-old St. Pete Beach cinema house, however. Although renovations are in progress, transforming the Beach into a newly-fitted space for movies, concerts and community performances, it’s just not ready yet.

Instead, the theater’s owners plan to show four movies in June, one on each of the first four Wednesdays, outdoors at Col. Michael J. Horan Park, at the west end of the Corey Causeway/Pasadena Avenue.

The free movies, presented in conjunction with the City of St. Beach and various sponsors, celebrate what would have been Judy Garland’s birthday on June 10. They are:

The Wizard of Oz (1939). June 1, 8 p.m.

The Clock (1945). June 8, 8 p.m.

Summer Stock (1950). June 15, 8 p.m.

A Star is Born June 22, 8 p.m.

Food and beverage trucks will be on-site and will begin serving at 7 p.m.

Chairs and blankets are encouraged; no umbrellas.

Christopher Scott and his wife Maria, inside the Beach Theatre Sept. 13, 2021. Photo: Bill DeYoung.

Architectural plans have been finalized for the theater’s new layout, according to Chris Scott, who bought the building at 315 Corey Ave. last fall. “And I’ve been meeting with contractors, and meeting with people who potentially want to sponsor parts of the theater, or contribute.”

The facility will be “super when it’s done,” Scott said, “but the potential costs are quite high.”

In September, Scott formed The Beach Theatre Community Foundation, Inc., to accept donations towards the restoration into a multi-purpose entertainment venue, which is what community members asked for in a public meeting, and through surveys.

Funds received have paid for the total cleanout of the theater interior, including removal of the old seats and much-needed roof repairs.

“It’s overwhelming, people’s generosity,” Scott reflected. “It’s keeping the lights on, and keeping the small bills paid. And that’s great because it keeps the connection going, and keeps people involved.”

Several thousand dollars came from a recent raffle of vintage movie posters, discovered rolled – in pristine condition – inside a theater storage space.

Still to the done: The “refurb” work (interior construction), fixtures and fittings, and the technical side of things (projector, sound and screen, et cetera). There’s work to be done.

The possibility, of course, exists that a single, well-meaning donor or philanthropist will come forward and pay for the whole thing. Naming rights, said Scott, will be on the table.

In the meantime, anyone with any sort of expertise is welcome. “The message is still the same,” Scott said. “If people want to help, and they can help in a practical way, not just a financial way, then please get in touch with us. Because it’s a big job.

“And I think the approach that we’re taking is, the more people we involve, the more it will feel like a community theater.

“I’m in this for the long run. We want to get this open as soon as we can.”

READ MORE: VINTAGE ST. PETE: Michael France and the Beach Theatre

 

 

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