Saturday, April 26, 2014

4/25/14 Trolley Stop # 11 - Reynolds Square (theatre)

Trolley Stop # 11: Reynolds Square

     A relatively new, but already well storied place in Savannah is the Lucas Theatre, and it is easily the most eye-catching thing on Reynolds Square.  In the early 1900's, Arthur Lucas owned theaters all over the United States.  This one in Savannah is the only one to bear his name, and when he built it he wanted it to be a "preeminent amusement palace."  He worked with an architect two years just in the planning of the architecture and interior appointments.

    Today, the theater hosts plays and musical groups as well as movies.

     All throughout the theater is decorative plaster design work - very intricate and alluring to the eye.  On top of the main floor seating, there is a balcony with three tiers of its own.

     Theater boxes arc gracefully off of both sides of the balcony.

     Shortly after it was built, air conditioning was installed.  This was a huge investment back in that time, and the theater boasted it was one of only 17 theaters in the United States with this luxury.

     The plaster work is really quite intricate and extensive.  

     Behind the curtain are all of the pulleys that operate curtains and backdrop scenes.

    There are brakes to hold the ropes in place and large counterbalancing weights for ease of raising and lowering the mechanisms.

     There is not a pit to speak of - when the theater was restored recently they had to full the area with dirt to stabilize the foundation.

     Bryan Bailey is the Technical Director at the theater, and he was kind enough to allow us to see the projectors.  There are three - the two on the outsides are old film projectors, and the one in the middle is the modern day digital projector.  The Sony unit they have is one step below the IMAX quality projector.

     For the shows that still use film, there are the big reels that allow the film to unwind and rewind as it runs through the projector.

     There are concession areas both in the main lobby and upstairs.  There is a neat large oval opening that looks down into the main lobby below.

     I mentioned restoration - after falling into disrepair it was slated to be demolished in 1986.  However, a group of citizens united to try to save it. Their efforts resulted in public fundraising that was assisted by many - including the cast and crew of Forest Gump when the movie was filmed here.  There are many photos and articles about the theater detailing that time in its history, and it was quite an undertaking.

     Today, Savannah College of Art and Design is a big supporter of the venue, staging shows here and helping with overhead.  This assistance has allowed the theater to remain open and offer a wide variety of shows at very reasonable prices for the community.

     But soon enough, the lights went down and it was time for tonight's show. 

     Anybody NOT know what the show was by looking at this picture?

     No sooner was the show underway than Shea, an employee, was out changing the marquis.  The theater is open during the day for tours, and is certainly worth the time to stop in and look around.  Special thanks to Erin and Robyn for helping me get access and photos today.


     Out in Reynolds Square is the statue of John Wesley.  John was a minister who is credited with starting the Methodist Church here in 1735.

     Lingering in the air today was the haunting melody of a flute being played by Marion May.  Marion has been playing here as a street musician for over twenty years.  The birds and the squirrels know who he is - no sooner does he fire up the flute than they start gathering around.  You see he brings bread and nuts that he disperses between songs.  I really don't know why he has a music stand - I heard him play a couple of dozen songs without a sheet of music.

     Today's Old Savannah Tours employee  is Levonne Bradley.

     Levonne was driving for Greyhound out of Richmond Virginia in 1997 when the owner of Old Savannah Tours got in contact to see if he wanted a job.  Will, father of two, drives the shuttle buses and the corporate cars.  Will spends his days picking up and dropping off clients from their hotels, and many of his nights and weekends shuttling for corporations, weddings and the like.  I was pressing Levonne for a good story, and he said he had plenty of them.  But, he said, "What happens in the limo has got to stay in the limo."

Have an awesome Saturday everybody!!

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