It’s been 81 years since the original Gay Theater opened in Wayne, and now we will have a movie theatre once again! Since the theatre closed in 2008, there has been something missing from downtown. We were missing a place to hang out, a place to go on a date, a place for kids to see their first movie…
What we were missing was a place to take part in a part of the American experience. There is nothing like the hush that falls through a crowded theater when the lights go down and the movie is about to begin. And now we won’t have to miss that anymore.
When the theatre closed, a group of determined people got together and decided that Wayne deserved to have a movie theater. Reggie Yates, Gary Van Meter, Jeff Morlok, Stephanie Liska, Jill Brodersen, and Todd Young, with help from the Wayne Area Economic Development Institute, set about raising the money to buy the building and revitalize and reopen the theater. Surely there was a way to reopen this theatre? And surely there was a way to bring in the Wayne Community Theatre Group, who needed a stage when the theatre happened to have a spare one? Soon they had momentum and the project was off.
First, the entire building had to be gutted. Demolition began in August of 2009, and volunteers got sweaty and dusty, and then cold and dusty, as demo continued into the winter. Finally, in early spring 2010, reconstruction could begin. There were lots of surprises (What do you mean this building has no insulation?!?) and some setbacks (We have to buy a new marquee?!?) but our volunteers and community supporters kept working. While our volunteers sweated, then shivered, then sweated to get the theatre rebuilt, the community voted to name the new theatre. After 91 different submissions and hundreds of votes, The Majestic won. (The other contenders were The Legacy, The Brookdale, and The Chanticleer.) Sometime that summer they hired someone to actually run the place.
By fall of 2010 the project had reached the point of no return: one way or another, this theatre was going to be finished. As the cold weather moved in, nobody could miss the activity on our end of Main Street. The new marquee was up, the inside had been painted, the new lights were on day and night as volunteers worked to get it finished. Speculation began about what our first movie would be. The Board of Directors filed all the paperwork to make sure film companies would let us show films. The popcorn and soda machines found a home on the new counters. The Community Theater group began learning about their new space. A celebration was planned.
And how does this story end? In a dark room, in a comfy new seat, with popcorn in one hand and a soda in the other, eyes open, doing something that we can once again take for granted: watching a movie on a big screen. And we hope you’re here with us.