Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg turned 95 in 2022. Leaders are asking the community to chip in to help the historic venue reach a second century, and beyond.
The "95 Strong" fundraising campaign aims to raise $95,000 by the end of the current season. The theater's last stage show is an Elvis Presley and Conway Twitty tribute on May 4.
"Our 95 Strong Campaign will help offset the annual growing costs of operating, maintaining and improving this wonderfully historic venue, so that future generations can continue to find comfort, memories and joy within her storied walls," Capitol Theatre Executive Director Kelly Kozlowski said, in a news release.
Like many other theaters and venues around the country, ticket sales are not enough to keep the Capitol running. Even with grants, the theater needs support from the community's residents and businesses to be sustainable each year, according to the news release.
Capitol Theatre was closed for over a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Kozlowski said it "bounced back" with the 2021-22 season, which included 16 concerts, interactive movies and special events that together attracted more than 5,000 people. Organizations including Chambersburg Community Theatre, Chambersburg Ballet Guild, Chambersburg Ballet Theater School and The Exchange Club of Greater Chambersburg also hosted events at the theater.
"While the Capitol Theatre has returned to its year round calendar of events with its current 2022-2023 Season of presentations, as in years past, annual financial support is needed to fund the everyday operations, maintenance and updating needs of the Capitol Theatre Center," Kozlowski said.
Capitol Theatre evolves with the times
Built in 1927, Capitol Theatre debuted as part of the Pottstown Theater Company, according to past reporting in the Public Opinion. It showed silent films and hosted vaudeville acts.
"Talkies," or movies with sound, took over within a decade, and the theater continued operating as a cinema until the mid-20th century.
Television forced the Capitol to evolve. In 1948 it was renovated into a performing arts center. It was one of the rare facilities to have air conditioning.
Capitol Theatre at 90:Curtain rises for next act
The theater had several owners over the years before Downtown Chambersburg Inc. bought it in 1996. A nonprofit organization focused on revitalizing downtown Chambersburg, DCI re-introduced the venue in 2003 as the extended Capitol Theatre Center following a major renovation. It was designed to be the cultural arts hub of the community and surrounding region and featured an improved stage and a completely renovated auditorium.
The Capitol Theatre Center has operated independently since 2010. It is governed by the Capitol Theatre Center Foundation and has a volunteer board of trustees.
A starring holdover from the theater's first days is the Moller organ. An organ recital preceded the first movie ever shown at the theater, and today the organ is regularly used at community events.
They may not be new releases, but the Capitol still shows popular movies as special events during its regular season. Before the end of 2022, for example, it will show "The Polar Express" and host a pajama party for families on Dec. 3, followed by two showings of "White Christmas," with a holiday social in between, on Dec. 22.
Today the Capitol works to stack its seasons with something for everyone. In addition to the holiday movies above, upcoming shows this season are:
"Jessica Lynn: A Very Merry Country Christmas," Dec. 10
Comedian Peter Fogel's "Til Death to Us Part...You First!" on Feb. 11;
"Mountain Music and Moonshine," Feb. 25;
Irish Happy Hour, featuring Celtic band Across the Pond, March 10
"You're Looking at Country," a tribute to country music legends such as 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 4.
The popular events Blues Brews and BBQ and the 21+ Backlot Blast will return to the Capitol's back lot on May 6 and July 8, respectively.
How to donate to 95 STRONG campaign
The Capitol Theatre welcomes financial contributions of any amount, but it offers rewards to donors who give $100 or more.
As part of the See Your Name in Lights program, those who give a donation of $250 or more through Dec. 31, 2022, will see their name in rotation on the Capitol's digital marquee on Main Street for a week in January. Donors can opt out.
Anyone who gives $100 or more will be among the first people who can buy tickets for the theater's next season.
There are several ways to make a donation:
Write a check to Capitol Theatre Center Foundation and mail it to 95 Strong Campaign, Capitol Theatre Center, 159 S. Main St., Chambersburg, PA 17201.
Call or visit the box office (717-262-0202) to pay by credit card. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, but check the website for holiday hours.
Add a donation when you buy a ticket.
Donations are tax-deductible.
If you're thinking about making a gift but would like more information, contact Kelly Kozlowski at 717-263-0202, Ext. 203, or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Chambersburg Public Opinion: Chambersburg's Capitol Theater seeks support to be '95 Strong'