This time of year a century ago, film-goers would’ve traveled to the single-screen Playhouse by sleigh over snow-rolled roads. While we get there a little differently now, the experience is still steeped in tradition and holds a special place in the hearts of community members across generations.
“So great that the movie theater I grew up with is still around and able to be enjoyed by more and more people,” said Playhouse patron Colleen Laliberte in her Facebook review. “My older kids grew up with it as well and we were just back in town with my youngest and took him for the first time. Love this theater.”
The Playhouse is the oldest purpose-built movie theater in Vermont and one of the oldest in the United States. The historic gem began in 1919 as The Strand, showing silent films, and had several owners over the years before becoming a member-owned cooperative in 2012. That same year, co-op owners provided the funds necessary to purchase a digital projector for the theater.
Today the Playhouse Board of Directors continues to seek community support in the digital age as more and more people stay home to watch movies on Netflix and Hulu. In a recent interview with The Herald, Bennett Law, who serves as the theater’s volunteer operations manager, shared the infrastructure and operational challenges the Playhouse faces.
“We have to look into what we can do to keep the theater alive and a viable enterprise,” Law told the community newspaper.
Community members who wish to help sustain the Playhouse are invited to invest in the cooperative by buying a share. Shares are $100 for individuals and $200 for families. Benefits of co-op ownership include the opportunity to influence programming and run for a seat on the Playhouse board.
Challenges aside, the theater continues to draw local movie-goers of all ages throughout the year – come rain or snow.
Playhouse tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65 and over, and $7 for children. For more information about the theater, including showtimes and volunteer opportunities, visit playhouseflicks.com, follow them Facebook, or call (802) 728-4012.
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