Dayton area theater searching for volunteers

The Plaza Theatre in downtown Miamisburg is looking for volunteers. STAFF FILE PHOTO

A Dayton area theater, one of the few operating during COVID-19, needs new volunteers to allow it to keep showing classic films.

The Plaza Theatre at 33 S. Main St. in downtown Miamisburg has always faced a challenge in getting volunteers, a task unrelated to the pandemic, said Emily von Stuckrad-Smolinski, the theater’s executive director.

“October (to) December traditionally brings heavy traffic to the theater as people come out to see the holiday classics," she said. “We pick up an incredible amount of showings and bookings this time of the year, so there is more of a need for volunteer work."

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Masks must be worn at The Plaza Theatre unless concessions are being consumed, von Stuckrad-Smolinski said.

“Since we have (re-opened) in June, things are picking back up again as people gain confidence with our safety procedures, as being followed from those issued by the State of Ohio,” she said.

Volunteers must be at least 15 and may sign up by visiting www.myplazatheatre.com and clicking the “Volunteer at The Plaza.” Each volunteer receives one movie voucher for each shift worked.

Box office volunteers require prior training before signing up. Concession volunteers serve popcorn, drinks and concessions.

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House ushers, who help guide people to seating to keep groups socially distant, do not need prior training to volunteer.

“Each time a person volunteers, they are also entered into a drawing we hold once a year where we pick a lucky volunteer to win a private screening of a movie of their choice with up to 100 people,” von Stuckrad-Smolinski said.

The theater is a 501(c)3 non-profit with one full-time staff member and five part-time managers, she said. The remainder of the positions that it fills for each show are all volunteers.

“We have around 150 volunteers on our mailing list, but usually a core of about five to 10 who are regulars," she said. “Some just volunteer once to fulfill school requirements or another community obligation.”

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The Plaza Theatre operates on a lean budget and is not able to afford additional staffing needs if those positions aren’t filled by volunteers, she said.

“Sometimes audience members may see the box office is closed and that is because we couldn’t fill that position with a volunteer,” von Stuckrad-Smolinski said. “We can operate the theater with only three (people) during a showing, but the customer experience is much more pleasing with the full treatment.”

Miamisburg Mayor Michelle Collins, who serves on the board for the Plaza Theatre, said she volunteers as an usher at the theater whenever possible.

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Collins said von Stuckrad Smolinski has “been a rock star” when it comes to keeping volunteers and theater-goers safe during the pandemic.

“We’re setting customers three seats from another non-related group, we’re staggering the rows, we have barriers up at the concession stand,” she said. “We have opened the outside box office so that people can just purchase a ticket out there in case they don’t want concessions as to not back up that line.”

IF YOU GO.

The Plaza Theatre, 33 S Main St., Miamisburg, is getting into the Halloween spirit by offering a slew of ghoulish classics. That includes “The Monster Squad” at 4:30 p.m. today and "Night of the Living Dead,” at 7 p.m. today.

Movie tickets are $5.

Upcoming other movies include Hocus Pocus" (1993), “The Exorcist: Extended Directors Cut” (1973) “The Thing” (1982), “The Amityville Horror” (1979), “The Legend of Boggy Creek” (1972), “Carrie” (1976), “An American Werewolf in London” (1981),"Rosemary’s Baby" (1968), “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948), “House of Wax” (1953), “The Lost Boys” (1987), “Ghostbusters” (1984), “The House on Haunted Hill” (1959), “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Halloween” (1978).

More information at www.myplazatheatre.com.

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