Thanks to a gift of more than $14,000, the State Theatre has a new lighting system and other equipment — just in time to announce it's next season.
The State Theatre Preservation Society (STPS), a 501(c)(3) public charity, received the funding from the Performing Arts Council (PAC) when they disbanded.
The lighting upgrade includes heavier, professional quality LED lights which hang from a 30-foot truss across the ceiling. The truss allows for better positioning of the lights on stage and eliminates the need for light stands that took up space on the stage.
“We run the lighting system when bands are here,” said STPS treasurer Barry Taylor. “I don’t think a lot of people know that we run the lights and we set up the sound and run the audio for most of the bands.”
Most of the fixtures are stationary and flood certain areas of the stage with light. But there are two new moving head fixtures that can be controlled from the theatre's AV booth, allowing those lights to be adjusted without having to manually refocus them.
“Let’s say for example, if we had a show up here for Civic Players and we needed to put light on a specific point on the stage without having to get up there and rearrange all the lights, we could utilize those two moving heads to be able to put light where we need it to — whereas before you’d have to get up and refocus all the lights,” Taylor said.
The LED lights also require less maintenance and will be more energy efficient.
“The lights are still very bright,” said Taylor.
Although bright, the lights will not produce as much heat for those who are on stage. The lighting will also allow those on stage to walk out onto the platform steps at the front of the stage without stepping out of the stage lights.
“A lot of performers like to come out and use that area to perform," Taylor said. "You lost them when they came out there — they were in shadow. So it resolved a lot of those problems.”
The projector is also mounted on the truss, whereas originally it was placed on top of one of the speakers.
“There were certain areas on the stage where you’d walk right into the [projector's] beam and you’d see a shadow up on the screen,” Taylor said. “The way it’s set now, you have to be, well, about two feet away from the screen before you start casting a shadow. So that’s a huge advantage as well.”
The lighting will also allow for better quality photographs to be taken during events.
Thankful for support
Kevin Burkett, STPS CEO and president, expressed the organization's gratitude for the donation from PAC and other organizations, businesses and individuals at the State Theatre Gala last month.
"Nobody who works [at the theatre] makes a penny," Burkett said. "Any money that comes into the theatre stays at the theatre and goes toward operational costs, repairs and maintenance — and the eventual complete restoration of the theatre."
Burkett purchased the State Theatre in 2014, then set up the nonprofit STPS and gifted the theatre to that nonprofit. He currently serves as one of seven unpaid board members for the organization and is also the editor of the Pharos-Tribune.
Since the theatre is a nonprofit, it relies heavily on donations and sponsors to operate. At the theatre's gala, major sponsors and donors were recognized, including PAC and the Cass County Community Foundation (CCCF), which awarded more than $12,000 in funding last year to help the nonprofit upgrade its sound system.
"Without the generosity of organizations like PAC and CCCF, and the local companies and individuals who support us, we would never be able to put on the number or quality of shows we've been fortunate enough to bring to Logansport," Burkett said.
Major corporate sponsors recognized at the gala were McCord's Do-It Best, the Cass County Visitors Bureau and Mike Anderson Auto Group. Corporate sponsors for the theatre's 2018-19 season were Beacon Credit Union, Security Federal Savings Bank, Logansport Savings Bank, Amelio's on the River, Holiday Inn Express and Memorial Hospital. Show sponsors were Vibrant Events Catering (chosen show sponsor of the year), The Record Farm, D&J Liquors, B&K West, Mary Max Cinemas, Rex Byers Heating and Cooling and Midwest Action Fest.
The theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Courthouse Square Historic District. But that won't prevent the theatre from becoming one of many others lost to time, according to Burkett.
"About 75-80 percent of the buildings that were in downtown Logansport in 1911 are gone," he said. "Some were destroyed by fires, but most fell from neglect."
At the gala, Burkett explained the Preservation Society's primary mission — to save a historic structure.
"We love doing shows," Burkett said. "Whether it's a concert, comedian, theatrical show or educational workshop, its the fun part of what we are doing. But all of that is a distant second to our primary objective, which is to save and completely restore this iconic, one-of-a-kind building in Cass County and be sure it's preserved for the future enjoyment of the community. If one day it's no longer used as a theatre, so be it. As long as it remains preserved and intact and continues to serve a needed role for the community."
Concept drawings were also presented at the gala showing plans to expand the theatre to add dressing rooms, a loading dock and more first-floor ADA compliant restrooms. The project is estimated to cost around $3 million, according to an architectural study completed two years ago and funded through another grant from the Community Foundation. Engineering students from Purdue University also contributed to the concept drawings.
The State Theatre's 2019-2020 season was also announced at the gala. A number of free movies will be presented again this year, starting with "Footloose," which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Other free movies include "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Night of the Living Dead," "Home Alone," "The Goonies," "Back to the Future," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "High Fidelity" and "This Is Spinal Tap."
Independent film festivals the Midwest Horror Fest and Midwest Action Fest will also be returning this season.
Musical act The Why Store is set to perform Dec. 7 and comedian Greg Hahn will take the stage Jan. 25, 2020. A number of local bands and tribute acts to Fleetwood Mac, Ozzy Osbourne, STYX, Foreigner and Journey are also slated. Civic Players of Logansport and Logansport Junior Civic Theater will each produce one of their stage shows this season at the State, and fundraisers for the Cass Domestic Violence Task Force and Fireman's Burn Out Fund are on the schedule.
The theatre is partnering with the Logansport Elks Club this year to hold the annual costume contest after the Halloween parade on the State Theatre stage, with special guest Sammy Terry, the world's longest-running horror host. That event is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29.
For a complete list of shows and link to purchase tickets in advance, visit www.statetheatrelive.com. There are also links on the website and the theatre's Facebook page to securely make contributions to the Preservation Society.
Reach Tyra Bahney at email@example.com or 574-732-5150.
State Theatre 2019-2020 season
Show dates and times subject to change. For more information, or to purchase advance tickets to any show, visit www.statetheatrelive.com
Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Saturday, Sept. 14: "Footloose"
Oct. 5-6: Midwest Horror Film Festival (Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Friday, Oct. 11: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (doors open at 11:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, Oct. 29: "Night of the Living Dead" featuring an appearance by Sammy Terry (after the Elks Halloween Parade)
Saturday, Nov. 29: "Home Alone" (after the Light Up Logansport Parade)
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020: "The Goonies"
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020: "Back to the Future"
Saturday, March 6, 2020: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
Saturday, April 18, 2020: "High Fidelity"
April 24-25, 2020: Midwest Action Film Festival (Friday, April 24: 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, April 25: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Saturday, May 16, 2020: "This Is Spinal Tap"
Concerts and other shows
Saturday, Sept. 21: Landslide, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19: Rock America, the music of STYX, Foreigner and Journey, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 8: The Flying Toasters, with special guests Almost There, 8 p.m. (benefit for the Cass County Domestic Violence Task Force)
Saturday, Nov. 16: Madman's Diary, a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7: The Why Store, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14: The Grace Scott Band, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21-22: Junior Civic Theater's Christmas show (TBA)
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020: Comedian Greg Hahn, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020: Broken Halos, a benefit concert for the Fireman's Burn Out Fund (TBA)
March 13-15, 2020: Civic Players of Logansport's spring production (TBA)
Saturday, March 21, 2020: The Record Farm 4th Anniversary Concert (TBA)