MIDDLETOWN — Once a dedicated movie theater, the Sorg Opera House is going back to its roots by bringing movies back to the community. A new event series, “Colonial Days” will honor its rich history.
“We have a strong following of patrons, who come in and say, ‘Oh, I saw ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ here,’ and we received a Facebook post today that said, ‘I saw every Elvis movie here,’ and we thought, this is great, untapped potential,” said Nancy Griffith, president, of the Sorg Opera House Revitalization Group.
She said, “I love that people remember seeing films here. It’s like a little piece of nostalgia. Childhood memories are coming back, and we can introduce it to a new generation of people. I also love that it’s downtown. A lot of things are happening downtown.”
To kick off the “Colonial Days” event series, the Sorg will show two movies Saturday, May 14. “A League of Their Own,” and “Bad News Bears.” Showtimes will start at 9 a.m. with alternating screenings every two-and-a-half-hours.
“We are going to show the films for free, and you can come anytime during the day that they are running. We will have some concessions on sale, and we’ll have a raffle basket or two. All of the proceeds we are trying to raise will go directly into our mortgage fund. We are trying to pay off our mortgage before the end of the year,” Griffith said.
The mortgage amount is $165,000, and for a non-profit, she said it’s a “huge amount.” A $5,000 payment is going out next month.
“The non-profit doesn’t own the building. We are in a lease-to-own situation, and we’ve been making yearly payments for several years, and this is our last yearly payment before our balloon payment is due next year,” Griffith said.
Donations are not required to attend. Those that desire to donate may also make donations through the Middletown Community Foundation.
Griffith said the Middletown Community Foundation was instrumental in getting modern projection equipment installed in the theater. The equipment was acquired from a church, who had a projector and screen available for sale.
“Thanks to these grants we were able to acquire projectors and a screen to enhance our facilities. This will positively impact both our live music and theatrical productions in addition to adding more community programs,” she said.
Concertgoers, volunteers, and musicians alike often come through the doors of the Sorg Opera House with fond memories of the Colonial Theater. For several decades of the Sorg’s storied history, the Colonial Theater was a staple for local entertainment on the silver screen.
Going forward, movies will be shown on select dates. The hope is to offer them once a month. Movie selections will vary from family-friendly and themed films to date-night movies, and more.
Bob Melloh, a member emeritus on the board of the Sorg Opera Revitalization Group (SORG) has fond memories of his father, Bernie Melloh, working at the theater as a projectionist for 40 years.
“We were able to keep the original 35-millimeter projectors and are working to display them to the public once we finish second balcony renovations,” said Bob Melloh, who spent many years of his childhood at the theater.
In recent years, the Sorg has continued to bring concerts, theater, and musical productions to the stage in Middletown.
“For a lot of folks in Middletown, the Sorg is a weekend staple for live events,” said Larry Mulligan, board secretary for the SORG. “‘Colonial Days’ will allow us to offer even more diverse programming for all ages.”
Quite a few of the patrons, and others that come into town remember this as the Colonial Theater, he said.
“We wanted to pay homage to that with these events, and we’re hoping to have a few more throughout the year,” Mulligan said.
He said the Sorg occupies a space in downtown that’s a catalyst for live events and overall economic development.
“We have a lot of great breweries, restaurants, and small businesses in downtown, and we bring a lot of traffic into our theater, and the more people that know about it, the more we can offer quality programming,” Mulligan said.
A basket featuring Dayton Dragons tickets and other baseball memorabilia will be raffled off at the conclusion of the event. Proceeds from the event will go toward ongoing restoration efforts at the Sorg Opera House.
How to go
What: “Colonial Days” movie events at the Sorg Opera House
When: 9 a.m. Saturday; Two movies will be shown with various show times. “A League of Their Own” will be shown at 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.; “Bad News Bears” will be shown at 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Where: Sorg Opera House, 63 S. Main St., Middletown
Admission: Free. Concessions will be available for sale and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sorg. Donations will also be accepted.
More info: Visit sorgoperahouse.org and www.facebook.com/SorgOperaHouse. There will be a raffle drawing at the conclusion of the event.
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