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The Antelope

The Antelope

World Theatre reopens after renovations, shutdowns

RYAN RANGE / ANTELOPE STAFF Crane River Theater will present ‘Pretty Fire’ starting Feb. 23 in the World Theatre.

After being closed for almost a year, Kearney’s World Theatre is reopening after long-awaited remodels were delayed by the onset of COVID-19. Crane River Theater Company will be performing its show “Pretty Fire” beginning Feb. 23.

Excitement surrounds the remodel of the theater, which includes new seats in the balcony, a new concession area, improvements in stage lighting, an addition of a candy shop, a lounge area, and even the restoration of the building’s original dressing rooms.

“It’s a whole new World,” said World Theatre executive director Bryce Jensen. “There’s new really cool places to hang out, little nooks and crannies that didn’t even exist before in the theater.”

The World Theatre has been closed since March 17 of last year for construction and renovations. The original plan was to shut down for a few months, but the pandemic prolonged the closure.

Because it’s a nonprofit organization, the World Theatre had to buckle down to conserve funds, resulting in the layoffs of some employees. Previously, movies provided the theater’s main income, but the board found new ways to fundraise last year. Throughout the spring and summer, the World Theatre held curbside concessions as well as drive-in events, which they called “The World Under The Stars” during the summer and fall. The drive-ins were so successful that the board was able to donate excess money to charities.

“Even the fundraising campaign for this remodel on top of having to help us get through COVID is a testament to the community’s love and support of the theater,” Jensen said.

Built as a vaudeville theater in 1927, The World Theatre has served generations of patrons. Since the theater’s restoration in 2012, it has not only shown movies as it did in the past, but it has also provided a space for groups such as the Crane River Theater Company and the Flatwater Jazz Orchestra to hold performances.

Since its beginning, Crane River Theater Company has had a close relationship with the World Theatre. Steve Barth, executive artistic director of Crane River Theater Company looks forward to the opportunity to have productions at the World Theatre once again, as the recent renovations will facilitate live performances.

“We’re so excited to be able to do that at the World Theatre, and they’ve been such a wonderful partner in allowing us to find the safest way to do that,” Barth said.

“We felt it was a good way to reintroduce the theater to the community because of all the live stuff we’ve added to it and the capabilities to have them do a stage show here for the first thing of the new World,” Jensen said. “It just felt like a good fit.”

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