Theater runs on popcorn, vintage charm
General Manager, Chad Byers said people always leave the theatre with a smile on their face. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
Saturday, Oct. 20: “The Boogers” Part of the kids concert series
Friday, Oct. 26: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Shaun of the Dead” double feature
Saturday, Oct. 27: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Ghostbusters” double feature
The Wilmette Theatre
1122 Central Avenue
Updated: October 23, 2012 3:02PM
WILMETTE — There aren’t too many independent movie houses around anymore, but the Wilmette Theatre has managed not only to stay afloat, but to thrive.
Built in 1914, the old movie house, with its vintage charm and character that’s truly appreciated by its guests, prides itself on its diversity of shows.
“We offer a variety of mainstream and independent movies, documentaries, stand-up comedy, bands, kids concerts and live events,” said Chad Byers, who has been the general manager of the theater for seven years. “We’re truly a multi-arts venue, and we try to embrace all aspects of the arts.”
Terry Tierney, of Wilmette, comes to shows about twice a month.
“I see an assortment of events,” he said. “I enjoy all the different shows. They’ve had “Annie” from the original 70’s version of the show, and I’ve also met Vidal Sassoon here, and last night I came to see the movie “They Call it Myanmar,” and afterward I met the director, Robert Lieberman.”
With its old-fashioned candy counter and the 35 millimeter reels that are still used to show some of the movies, the Wilmette Theatre was privately owned until last year, when the decision was made to convert it into a not-for-profit enterprise. Now, 12 board members oversee and run the theater.
“It’s so much better for the community,” Byers said. “We’re able to raise funds for the theater and expand and renovate and bring in volunteers, and the previous owners are still very actively involved.”
There are two separate theaters in The Wilmette Theatre, that each hold 180 people.
Tickets for the shows range from $10-$20.
“This place is charming,” Tierney said. “The lobby smells like buttered popcorn, and it’s filled with movie posters. It really is a throwback to the old movie theaters.”
Tierney also enjoys meeting so many directors, actors and comedians, and the audience always gets a chance to talk to the performers and ask questions after the shows.
“It makes the whole experience so energetic and brings it alive,” he said.
Other attractions at the theater include the monthly performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with a live cast, visiting performances from Chicago’s The Annoyance Theatre, and “Sex & The Suburbs,” a series of panel discussions with local experts and sex and relationship columnist, Marjie Kileen.
“People come from all over to see a show here,” Byers said. “And what’s cool about being here all the time is that it’s always someone’s first date, or it’s some little kid’s first movie. People always leave here with a smile on their face.”
Byers also said lots of people stop by or call to ask questions about the movies being shown.
“When you call other theatres, you get a tape,” he said. “It’s so personalized here.”
And as for the popcorn, Byers said they offer the real deal.
“It’s just good,” he said with a smile. “Good stuff.”