The Covid-19 Pandemic has impacted our nation (and the world) greatly. Families have lost loved ones; others have battled long-term effects of the virus. People have lost jobs, homes, and more. Much of our economy has been battered, especially the Travel and Recreational Industries. In particular, live entertainment and entertainers have been devastated. I will be writing a series of blog articles about live entertainment and how you can help support some live entertainment hopefully survive until we return to more normal days.
Today I am writing about a local movie theatre literally just a few blocks from my home. I am speaking of the Allen Theatre and Backstage Café located at 36 E. Main St., Annville, PA. This is in many ways a very historic theatre. According to its website it first opened in the early 1900’s as the Hippodrome which operated as a “second-run” theatre, showing movies at a discounted rate after leaving first-run theaters. Around 1929, new management changed the name to the Astor Theater which operated until shutting down in the early 1980’s. In 1992, Mr. Skip Hicks bought the theatre, spent 3 years renovating it, and it opened in 1995 as the Allen Theatre. Under Skip’s ownership, the Allen Theatre was named one of the twelve best local movie theaters in the country by moviefone.com in 2010. In June of 2018, the Allen was purchased by Edward and Susan Felty where it continues its importance to the community.
Normally the Allen Theatre shows a mixture of First Run and Second Run movies, however after being shut-down during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, it reopened and for now is showing classic movies. In addition to the Movie Theatre itself, the Back Stage Café also operates adjacent to the Theatre. This movie theatre is not only historical in nature, it represents some of the best of our traditions. It would be a shame if the current pandemic led to its permanent closure.
How can you help the Allen Theatre and other live entertainment venues that are similar? First of all, if you feel comfortable you can attend one of the movie showings. If during the pandemic that is outside of your comfort range, consider stopping by and ordering a meal from the Back Stage Café? Or you could simply make a donation of any amount. Many venues similar to the Allen Theatre have similar ways you can help during this time.
Many of us are hurting during this pandemic. But it has devastated the Live Entertainment segment and put the lives, homes, and careers of many in serious peril. Many of us can help in some small way. In my next article I am going to explore Live Entertainment, including magicians, more broadly and how you can help. You might be surprised at the various ways you can help live entertainers.
Michael L. Reist
Michael is a professional magician known as The Amazing Magi who lives in Annville, PA and performs all over the NE United States. You may contact him at (610) 698-0311 or [email protected]