The Colonial Theatre is asking the community to literally "take their seats," as the "Take A Seat Campaign" has begun, said Mary Foote, executive director of the Association for the Colonial Theatre (ACT).
"This is the first time that ACT has come to the broader community to request capital support," said Foote. "Our previous campaigns focused on large contributions from friends and grants. With those campaigns, we were able to open and have been serving the community for over four years now. I hope that every household in the greater Phoenixville area will consider a gift, or whatever is possible, to make this effort a big success."
Renovations are currently going on inside the 101-year-old theater to increase the comfort level for moviegoers, said Foote.
"This past year, we finished work on the roof and the bathrooms in the theater. Along with providing additional handicap spaces inside the theater, we will be replacing the over 60-year-old seats in the theater," she said. "We've sold fifty sets of balcony seats and pre-sold a third of the floor seating. Over 210 people have signed up to sponsor the new seats that will be installed in March."
Foote said those customers who give the gift of a seat, which is $250 or more, will have their donation matched by the Phoenixville Health Foundation.
"Thanks to the Phoenixville Health Foundation, your gift of a seat will be matched by their generous challenge grant," she said. "For each seat donated, they will match $75 of the cost, up to $20,000. This is an amazing opportunity for you to increase the impact of your already generous gift in a way that directly benefits the Colonial. The donor will have the opportunity to place their name, their business name or the name of a loved one on a brass plaque that will be attached to the arm of the seat."
The vintage seats, which are being sold at $25 a pair, will slowly be removed starting on Tuesday, Feb. 17, said Foote. "That way, people who've already purchased them can pick them up and take them away."
Foote said the Colonial Theatre will close on Sunday, Feb. 29, following a special presentation of the 1939 Gary Cooper classic, "Beau Geste."
"We've received the right to show a newly struck print of 'Beau Geste,'" she said. "This is the last chance to sit in our vintage seats and enjoy an old film classic in brand new condition. After the showing, we'll begin removing the remaining vintage seats. The sooner the vintage seats are sold and removed, the faster the new seating will be installed."
Foote said the new seats, which measure 19 to 20 inches across, are cushioned and roomier than the wooden-backed vintage seats, which span 16 to 17 inches across.
"People will immediately notice the difference between the vintage seats and the new seats," Foote said. "We're hoping to bring a whole new group of moviegoers in to enjoy the new seating. Sure, there is some sadness and some memories, but things will be much better with the new seats."
Foote added, "The Colonial has a loyal following, and we attract more new friends every day. We want them to see their names on the seat they sit in - so that they'll know they are a supporter of local efforts like ours. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the Colonial."
For more information regarding the "Take A Seat" Campaign, contact Mary Foote at 610-917-1228 or stop in at the Colonial Theatre and pick up a pledge card. For programming information, visit the website at www.thecolonialtheatre.com.