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First Look: The Drexel Theatre Prepares for Reopening

Walker Evans Walker Evans First Look: The Drexel Theatre Prepares for ReopeningPhotos by Walker Evans.
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After four months of extensive renovations, the historic Drexel Theatre is prepping for a grand reopening next Friday, July 15th. The final phase of a $1.5 million update has given the entire building a major makeover.

“At first thought we’d just do the marquee and the two lobbies, but the Friends of the Drexel did a great job in fundraising, so we were able to redo the theaters as well,” said Theatre Director Kevin Rouch. “We replastered the ceiling of our largest theater, added new acoustic panels on the walls, and updated with new technology for hosting meetings as well. We wanted to marry this idea of the Art Deco design with new technology.”

Upstairs in the projection booth area, you’ll find a similar mix of old and new. Digital projectors run by computers sit adjacent to 35 millimeter projectors and spools of film. Allowing for both types of technology gives the Drexel the ability to continue its programmatic mix of wider releases and independent film, even if those lines have become blurred in recent years.

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“Films used to be either a wide release or an art house film,” said Rouch. “You either opened on 3,000 screens, which was wide, or 500 screens, which was limited. Now, it’s all over the place.”

The concessions area at the theater has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, and will feature a few new food items including Hebrew National hot dogs, house-made caramel corn, and four beers on draft that include selections from Elevator, Four String, Columbus Brewing Company and others.

While the Art Deco motif is a throwback to the theater’s original 1937 look, the renovations have also allowed for a more open and comfortable experience. Drop ceilings have been removed in the lobby, and each theater has refurbished seating with more leg room allocated for guests.

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And while the self-service ticket kiosks now located in the front lobby might seem a little more multiplex than historic, fans of the iconic exterior marquee will be happy to know that the movie title displays are still being hand-lettered, rather than being updated to an LED display.

The Drexel Theatre reopens next Friday, July 15th. Opening films include The Infiltrator (starring Bryan Cranston), The Meddler (starring Susan Sarandon), and Fathers and Daughters (starring Russell Crowe). Other upcoming movies include Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Woody Allen’s Café Society, and Captain Fantastic.

To read more about the history and ongoing changes at The Drexel Theatre, CLICK HERE.

For more information, visit www.drexel.net.

Photos by Walker Evans.

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