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Reopening of historic Kearney Theater after renovations




KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) – Two years of fundraising and a pandemic later, the World Theater is almost ready to reopen in downtown Kearney.

The coronavirus crisis that shut down most of Kearney’s cultural and entertainment venues forced the nonprofit theater to close in mid-March 2020. However, the shutdown became an opportunity to raise funds and complete projects. major renovations in the Vaudeville theater in 1927.

“We had our punch with the entrepreneur on Tuesday. There are some difficulties and purposes that we are dealing with, ”said Mark Orr, President of the World Theater Foundation.

Last weekend, volunteers did a deep clean of the theater, hung up decorations and prepared for the Crane River Theater solo show February 23-28, “Pretty Fire.”

The Kearney Hub reports that the live performance will take place on the renovated world stage. The renovations also include repairs to the locker rooms and backstage prep areas. There is a new heating and air conditioning system. The most visible update is the complete remodel of the Balcony of the World.

It now includes 69 luxury recliners and a concession stand.

Work is almost completed in the lobby as well. On the south side of this area is a living room and to the north is the return of the 1940s Sweet Shop.

The cost of the renovations and upgrades was $ 700,000. It took two years to raise so much money. Orr believes the changes will improve the global experience and equip the venue for additional activities, including live performances and receptions.

It was March 15, 2020, when the World sold its last ticket – “Little Women” – before closing for the pandemic. The fundraising campaign continued, but the world had to scramble to cover ongoing expenses, such as payroll. The organization raised funds with a pop-up film theater at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds and shared a portion of the proceeds with other nonprofits in the area.

World Theater Executive Director Bryce Jensen said the pop-up kept the name of the world in front of fans and was an opportunity to screen some old drive-in movie favorites such as “Grease,” Goonies, “” Independence Day “and” ET “

Jensen said the world could reopen a pop-up drive-in this summer.

Orr said plans are meeting for the movies in a few weeks. He anticipates that spaces will be limited to keep society away and that further efforts will be made to ensure public safety.

He said he was excited to dust off the theater and get ready to turn on the spotlight.

“We plan to show films in March. We will probably be hosting private rentals and parties for the people who donated for the balcony, ”he said. “It’s exciting. Things seem to be going better in the city. We want everyone to be safe, but everyone has to keep going.”

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