WILMINGTON — It’s the time of year to show support for one of the area’s architectural and cultural gems — The Murphy Theatre — by becoming a member or renewing an existing membership. The theater relies on membership donations to help pay for operating expenses that are not covered by ticket sales, sponsorships or grants. Individual memberships are available for as little as $50 a year.
For many Clinton Countians, The Murphy Theatre is an active embodiment of their childhood memories, and because it is a still-working theater, those memories can be instilled in future generations.
“The Murphy isn’t just a movie theater like when I was growing up here; it’s a treasure — a priceless walk into the past, protected with love by its community,” said Leslie Keller-Biehl, development director at The Murphy Theatre. “I am grateful to all those who have worked so hard to keep my Murphy childhood memories alive. I took it for granted. I didn’t realize how special the Murphy was until long after I went away to college and moved to Cincinnati.
“Every time I drove home to Wilmington to visit my mom and dad, I always drove by the theater hoping there was something playing. Now that I am involved, I understand the challenges of providing entertainment accepted by a large audience and finding the money to pay for it.”
Local show sponsors such as Ferno-Washington, Peoples Bank, Smith-Feike-Minton Insurance, Bill Marine Ford, Air Transport Service Group, Donatos Pizza, Wilmington Savings Bank, the Wilmington News Journal and New Sabina Industries have supported The Murphy Theatre year after year.
“It takes all of us in this wonderful community providing support the best way we can, either through membership, sponsorship, volunteerism, bequeaths or donations in-kind,” Keller-Biehl said. “If you want to help The Murphy Theatre continue to get stronger and better, becoming or renewing your membership is a great start.”
The membership drive is an opportunity for community members to support the arts, from old favorites such as Phil Dirt and the Dozers or Mike Albert to new bands such as the Drowsy Lads or award-winning bluegrass group IIIrd Tyme Out. The Murphy Theatre is planning a documentary film series — the first of which will be focused on music, the second one is in development — and a “Yellow Bus Series” that will bring school-aged children to the Murphy to enjoy and learn about the arts.
“We all benefit from the Murphy Theatre, whether from the historical architectural beauty inside and out, or the programming that takes place inside her doors,” saidlongtime supporter Barbara Bayless of Wilmington.
Although the theater no longer shows first-run movies as it did for years, it still provides a space for creative expression within the theater or in the second-floor Murphy Artists Studios.
Along with concerts, plays, lectures, and documentary films, the Murphy has opened its doors to children through its summer arts workshops presented by the Good Fairy Program, which receives its financial support from various foundations and sponsors.
The Murphy Theatre will host an open house 1-3 p.m. July 24 to celebrate its 98th birthday. Take a behind-the-scenes tour, enjoy refreshments and birthday cake, and record a Murphy memory that may be included in The Murphy History Project.
In September, the theater has been asked to join the Ohio Open Doors project, a celebration of Ohio’s historic buildings.
The Murphy Theatre 2016-17 schedule:
July 3: U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors
July 22-23: Music-related Documentary Films Series TBA
July 24: Murphy birthday open house
Sept. 17: Murphy Theatre Dancing with the Stars, directed by Timothy Larrick
Oct. 1: Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out (bluegrass)
Oct. 22: AnDa Union (from Inner Mongolia, China)
Oct. 22: Rocky Horror Picture Show
Nov. 6: Veterans Tribute featuring the United Christian Men’s Chorus
Nov. 11-12: Documentary Film Series TBA
Dec. 9, 10, 11: The Annual Murphy Christmas Show
Jan. 21: Phil Dirt and the Dozers
Feb. 4: Hotel California
March 3-4: East Clinton spring musical
March 11: Fortunate Sons
March 18: Drowsy Lads (Irish band)
April 29: Le Vent du Nord (folk band from Quebec)
May 6: Mike Albert & the Big “E” Band
Tickets go on sale to members June 1; general public ticket sales start June 15.
To become a member of The Murphy Theatre, visit www.themurphytheatre.org, call (937) 382-3643, or write to 50 W. Main St., Wilmington OH 45177.