Kentucky Theatre celebrates 90th birthday

By Courtney Ehrler

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The Kentucky Theatre had its red carpet rolled out Thursday night as the historical theatre commemorated its 90th birthday with popcorn, screenings of classic movie trailers and theater-lovers dressed in costumes of their favorite characters.

The celebration put on by The Friends of the Kentucky Theatre, was the kickoff for a fundraising campaign going toward renovating The Kentucky.

The group began their fundraising effort with a party for the community where local supporters could donate what they could and enjoy a night of fun at the theatre. Patrons were greeted under the marquee by an array of costume-clad UK students eager to promote The Kentucky Theatre and brush up on their acting.

The fundraising event served as a showcase for UK theatre students to promote the arts and become involved in the Friends of the Kentucky Theater fundraising campaign. Miles Christian Clark, a theatre and arts administration freshman dressed as Sydney Poitier, volunteered to support the cause and help the theatre grow.

“Any opportunity to bring attention to the arts is important,” Clark said. Peter LaPrade, a theater and arts administration freshman, welcomed supporters in a James Dean inspired costume.

His experience as a volunteer at the kickoff event has made him a new fan and supporter of The Kentucky.

“This is my first time here, actually. But now that I’ve been here and seen it, I can’t wait to come back as an audience member, ” Peter LaPrade said.

As the Kentucky Theatre celebrates 90 years of service to the Lexington community, it also remembers this year as the 20th anniversary of the last renovation the theatre has seen.

In 1991 a fire nearly destroyed the theatre, and since those initial renovations The Kentucky has not seen any improvements or repairs. The worn seats, old carpet and dated technology have put the theater behind the times and in need of a face-lift.

Thursday’s kickoff began the fundraising campaign to purchase a digital projector, the most essential upgrade the theatre needs. In 2013, film companies will begin the process of changing to digital technology.

That means film reels will no longer be sent and the Kentucky Theatre will no longer be able to screen movies unless the $250,000 digital projector can be purchased.

The Friends of the Kentucky Theatre are partnering with the Blue Grass Community Foundation to fundraise for these improvements. The BGCF partners with any charitable endeavor to promote their product, meet local needs and make a difference in the community.

Barbara Fischer, Director of Non-Profit Services for the Blue Grass Community Foundation, is a fan and supporter of the Kentucky Theatre.

“I was here less than a week ago, just last Saturday,” Fischer said. “It’s classy, it’s a Lexington landmark and they have better movies than anywhere else,” Fischer said.

The Kentucky’s 90th birthday celebration remembered the past and established plans to keep this unique Lexington landmark running for many more years.

“This place is beautiful, its historic, its how movies are supposed to be seen,” LaPrade said.