Construction, equipment issues delay Community Theatre opening

Jack Stradley of Old Town Theatre Center said the organization has encountered some issues that will delay the opening of the New Community Theatre.

“We have encountered additional and unanticipated equipment and construction delays,” said Stradley, whose organization is restoring the Community Theatre in Pine Bluff. “And due to those delays, we regret to announce that we are postponing our grand opening from January 17, 2014, until March 7, 2014, when we will present world-class Groucho Marx impersonator, Ron MacClosky, with his performance which has garnered rave reviews and followers nationwide. From that show forward, we will follow our previously published schedule of first-class variety entertainment.”

“As most of our constituents know, this is the second postponement we have enacted. While we have made substantial progress in our restoration, due to these unanticipated construction and equipment delays, the property simply will not be ready and in the condition we want for our first performance. We apologize for these delays and the inconveniences they may have caused,” Stradley said.

Stradley said those who have bought tickets for the cancelled performances have the choice of receiving a refund for the purchase price or credit for future performances.

The building which houses the Community Theatre was completed and first occupied in 1889 when it housed the legendary five and dime store, The S.H. Kress Company. The structure was converted to a theater in 1922 and was used in that venue until 1963. Developers and philanthropists made several attempts to restore and operate the theater with little success. This restoration, according to Stradley is full-fledged end-to-end, top-to-bottom.

“The finished theatre will feature a state of the art digital multi-channel audio system and a light system with 105 controllable lights,” Stradley said. “We will present first-class entertainment in a state-of-the-art theater environment — while we preserve the charm and comforts of the past.”

Tickets for 2014 performances from March through December are available on line at