WILMINGTON — You can expect to see something of a youth movement at the century-old Murphy Theatre.
To keep the stage lights bright for future decades at the historical theatre, Executive Director Maretta Alden and other supporters think it’s really important to get the younger generation into the theatre.
“I think the biggest thing for me is to get young people to love the theatre and to want to see it continue. That’s what we need to work on as a community,” said Alden.
In trying to appeal to a more diverse audience while keeping their current patrons, they will try a few different kinds of shows — such as the Rock the Block event on Saturday, July 28 — which Alden describes as an ’80s bands show.
Murphy Theatre is also stepping up its children’s shows. There are four children’s shows anticipated for the upcoming 2018-19 season: Reindeer Games, a magic workshop and performance, Rumpelstiltskin, and Mutts Gone Nuts.
Theatre staff also are planning to bring the Shakespeare company in Cincinnati to perform on stage to correspond with what local high schools are teaching so that youth can see and experience Shakespeare as opposed to simply reading his works.
“So we’re trying several new things,” said Alden.
Similarly, there also is an attempt to schedule a few concerts that college youth may be interested in, with one show already slated for a Friday night.
They are working on having some shows include a warm-up band in addition to the main act, something popular with the younger set, Alden said.
“We need to try new things. I’m sure some of the things will work and some of the things won’t work, but we won’t know until we try. And it’s important not to stagnate. It’s important to try new and different things,” she added.
Celebrating its 100th birthday with a week-long series of events July 20 through 28, the venerable building itself has new and different things. Thanks to a generous donation from the Tom Hamilton Family, the Murphy Theatre this summer became the proud home of an Allen Theatre Organ originally housed at a theater in Georgia.
The organ can make circus-like or train-like sounds, for example.
“We’re ushering in 100 new years with a theater organ, so it’s very exciting,” said Alden.
There are new seats for a new era, adding comfort to the entertainment venue. A new sound system was being installed this week.
The balcony has been refurbished, with glass panels at the front edge of the balcony to keep drinks from falling onto the audience below.
Previously, the placement of the balcony seats gave only seven inches of legroom. The new seating arrangement is suited to “real-people size,” Alden said.
At the back of the balcony there is new bistro seating — café tables and tall chairs with a view.
“Premium seats if you ask me,” the executive director said.
The balcony is now a very cool place to sit, she added.
Back to the main floor, there is new carpeting for the walking aisles, a newly restored inner lobby ceiling, newly polished brass pieces on doors, and refinished wood in the inner lobby.
There had been places where the wood was almost black. Alden thinks that was largely from years of heating with coal and people formerly being allowed to smoke in the lobby.
On the threshold of the theatre’s 101st year, the executive director said the not-for-profit organization needs people for the board of trustees, and more volunteers.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.