By Randy Danielson
After a 10 month community effort, Phase I is officially complete. On Tuesday of this week, VANADCO completed the installation of the LED replacement bulbs on the marquee just in time for Christmas. Randy Danielson, co-chair of the REES Project Committee stated that the marquee will be fully lit on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve to welcome home those returning for the holidays. This phase included the restoration of the masonry façade, repairs to the marquee and playbill cases.
A business plan and vision for the landmark theatre is also now complete. This was accomplished after interviewing performing arts groups in Marshall County, speaking to and often visiting other historic theatre venues in five states. The REES is now a member of the League of Historic American Theatres which has provided the Project Committee with a vast amount of collective support and information. There is a clear understanding that The REES cannot sustain its future simply as a standalone movie theatre. Its mission as a 501c3 Not for Profit, will be to provide for the promotion of artistic, educational and cultural events, including film, while offering a venue to celebrate life events and community milestones. To accomplish this, the interior décor will be restored to the art deco design era of its opening in 1940. To accommodate multi-purpose use, the floor system will change from a sloped floor, fixed seat system to an all new handicap accessible multi-level tiered floor system with removable seating that can be set for theatre format with seating for approximately 240 or banquet style with optional table seating for approximately 160.
A new stage will be constructed at a depth that will accommodate live performances. A fixed or retractable screen will provide for movie/green screen capabilities and presentations. Sound and lighting will also be geared toward the live performing arts as well as a learning center for both public and private use. A full basement under the existing stage will become a wardrobe/dressing area for performers. What is currently the stage area behind the existing screen will become a catering kitchen area and two levels of storage.
A new centrally located concession area, two new handicap restrooms adjacent to the lobby and coat check area will enhance the new venue along with a new second story balcony for additional seating.
Celebrating life's many events may also be fulfilled with the renovations at The REES. This historic downtown anchor is viewed to be once again a premier hub of supportive activity for the area upon its intended completion in its 80th anniversary year of 2020.
Cost estimates are being secured at this time and a capital campaign will commence in early 2018. Year-end gifts to support the restoration may be made through the Wythougan Valley Preservation Council, c/o Marshall Co. Historical Society Museum, 123 N. Michigan St., Plymouth, IN 46563 or The REES Endowment Fund, c/o Marshall County Community Foundation, 2701 N. Michigan St., Plymouth, IN 46563. Both funds have 501c3 not for profit status.