The Capitol Theater in Chambersburg turned 95 in 2022. Leaders are asking the community to get involved to help the historic venue reach a second century and beyond.
The 95 Strong fundraiser aims to raise $95,000 by the end of the current season. The theater’s final stage show is a tribute to Elvis Presley and Conway Twitty on May 4th.
“Our 95-strong campaign will help offset the increasing costs each year of operating, maintaining and enhancing this wonderful historic venue so future generations can continue to find comfort, memories and joy within its storied walls,” said Kelly Kozlowski, Executive Director of the Capitol Theatre. in a press release.
As with many other theaters and venues across the country, ticket sales aren’t enough to keep the Capitol going. Even with grants, the theater needs the support of community residents and businesses each year to be sustainable, according to the press release.
The Capitol Theater was closed for over a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kozlowski said it “recovered” with the 2021-22 season, which included 16 concerts, interactive films and special events that collectively drew more than 5,000 people. Organizations such as the Chambersburg Community Theatre, the Chambersburg Ballet Guild, the Chambersburg Ballet Theater School and the Exchange Club of Greater Chambersburg also held events at the theatre.
“While Capitol Theater has returned to its year-round calendar of events with its current 2022-2023 presentation season, as in previous years, annual financial support is required to fund the day-to-day operations, maintenance and update needs of the Capitol Theater Center. ‘ said Kozlowski.
The Capitol Theater evolves with the times
Built in 1927, the Capitol Theater debuted as part of the Pottstown Theater Company, according to previous reports in Public Opinion. It showed silent films and hosted variety shows.
“Talkies” or films with sound took over within a decade and the theater operated as a cinema until the mid-20th century.
Television forced the Capitol to evolve. In 1948 it was converted into a performing arts center. It was one of the rare facilities with air conditioning.
Capitol Theater at 90:Curtain up for the next act
The theater had several owners over the years before Downtown Chambersburg Inc. bought it in 1996. DCI, a nonprofit organization focused on revitalizing downtown Chambersburg, reintroduced the venue in 2003 after a major renovation as an expanded Capitol Theater Center. Conceived as a cultural arts center for the community and surrounding region, it featured an upgraded stage and a completely renovated auditorium.
The Capitol Theater Center has operated independently since 2010. It is governed by the Capitol Theater Center Foundation and has a volunteer Board of Trustees.
A prominent holdover from the early days of the theater is the Möller organ. An organ recital preceded the first film ever shown in the theater and today the organ is regularly used at community events.
While not new releases, the Capitol still shows popular films as special events during its regular season. Before the end of 2022, for example, it will show “The Polar Express” and host a family slumber party on December 3, followed by two showings of “White Christmas” with a Christmas party in between on December 22.
Today, the Capitol is working to stack its seasons with something for everyone. In addition to the Christmas movies above, the upcoming shows this season are:
- Jessica Lynn: A Very Merry Country Christmas, December 10
- comedian Peter Fogel’s “Til Death to Us Part…You First!” on February 11;
- “Mountain Music and Moonlight”, February 25;
- Irish Happy Hour with Celtic Band Across the Pond, March 10th
- “You’re Looking at Country,” a tribute to country legends like Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, March 11;
- “Forever Seger: A Silver Bullet Experience,” a tribute to Bob Seger, April 15;
- and “Elvis and Conway: The Ultimate Tribute” on May 4th.
Popular events Blues Brews and BBQ and the 21+ Backlot Blast return to the Capitol backlot on May 6th and July 8th, respectively.
How to donate to the 95 STRONG campaign
The Capitol Theater welcomes financial contributions of any amount, but offers rewards for donors who donate $100 or more.
As part of the See Your Name in Lights program, those who make a donation of $250 or more by December 31, 2022 will have their names rotated on the Capitol’s digital marquee on Main Street for one week in January . Donors can opt out.
Anyone who donates $100 or more will be among the first to purchase tickets for the theater’s next season.
There are several ways to donate:
- Go online to thecapitoltheatre.org and click the blue “Donate” button.
- Make a check payable to the Capitol Theater Center Foundation and mail it to 95 Strong Campaign, Capitol Theater Center, 159 S. Main St., Chambersburg, PA 17201.
- Call or visit the box office (717-262-0202) to pay by credit card. Regular opening hours are 11am to 4pm weekdays, but check website for bank holiday times.
- Add a donation when you buy a ticket.
Donations are tax deductible.
If you are considering making a gift but would like more information, contact Kelly Kozlowski at 717-263-0202 ext. 203, or [email protected]