FLORENCE — When Shoals Theatre opened its doors in 1948 it was one of Alabama’s most modern movie houses.
With its slide-back seats and state-of-the art projection equipment, it was top notch.
Now plans are developing to return the theater, at least part time, to its original use.
The Silver Screen Project, sponsored by Florence Main Street, aims to raise at least $70,000 to purchase and install projection equipment, an electronic, retractable screen and other technology in Shoals Theatre. Emily Thompson, the project leader, said raising $150,000 would allow for the installation of new sound equipment. Thompson said the current sound equipment is well suited for stage and musical productions, but not for movie screenings.
Shoals Theatre, which is home to the Zodiac and Gingerbread players, will continue its operation as a performing arts center, but, if the Silver Screen Project is successful, organizers envision showing independent, classic, foreign and other art house-style films when stage productions are not scheduled.
Thompson said the project was born after community support was shown for such an endeavor on a local blog. Thompson said she and a group of supporters are ready to tackle it.
“We are hoping the community can come together and share in this,” she said. “This is something many in the community have really asked for and are excited about.”
The movie projection equipment, once installed, will fall under the ownership of Shoals Theatre. Randy Pettus, president of the theater’s board, said his organization supports the project as it will expand the art offerings in the area.
“It isn’t going to turn into a film house, but adding film screenings will make the theater a true art house,” Pettus said. He said the Zodiac and Gingerbread players will continue their full eight-show season.
“This project has the potential to expand the use of the theater,” he said.
The Silver Screen Project’s first fundraiser, a “Sound of Music” sing-a-long is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Shoals Theatre or online at silverscreenshoals.com.
The projection equipment and screen will be on display during the fundraiser.
Thompson said she’d like to have the funds raised by the middle of March.
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com.