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Rotarians Recount Memories as They Seek to Save Liberty Theatre
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Wednesday, April 27, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Joan Davies paid 28 cents for a movie ticket to see “Gone with the Wind” at The Liberty Theatre when it came out in 1939.

Kathleen Eder remembers when actor Bruce Willis showed up at the theater to attend the Hailey Ski Team’s fundraiser.

Jennifer Bowen remembers watching “Lord of the Rings” there when the trilogy made its debut on the big screen in 2001.

And Claudia McCain recalls the day she got a speeding ticket as a high school student because she was rushing to see the latest movie there.

A small crowd full of Rotary Club members showed up in front of 83-year-old Liberty Theatre this week to present a $100,000 check to The Liberty Theatre Company’s Relight the Liberty Campaign to save the historic 212-seat theatre.

“We can’t lose the Liberty Theatre,” said Davies. “It’s an iconic building in Hailey, and it has too many beautiful memories. And we need the arts.”

The local Rotary Club’s mission is youth so The Liberty aligns with that mission, noted Rotary Club President Redgy James Christensen. The theater provides a venue for youth in the valley to dance and sing, he noted. And students have attended many a student matinee there over the years, with many getting their first exposure to theater.

The fledgling Liberty Theatre Company, which rose in the wake of Company of Fools, is trying to raise $1.5 million to reopen the theater and put the new theater group on good footing. Nearly a million dollars of that would go towards a new roof, masonry work on the outer wall and install an air filtration  system to satisfy post-pandemic standards so that the art deco theater can reopen to the public.

The rest would provide an endowment to ensure ongoing upkeep of the building.

“To date we’ve raised $420,000. So, we’re making progress, said JD McDonnell, executive director of The Liberty Theatre Company.

The Relight the Liberty campaign has a deadline of May 31, but the theatre company hopes that deadline can be extended if need be, McDonnell added.

Liberty Theatre Company supporters have had a few small gatherings to acquaint potential donors with the need. The theatre company may stage a bigger fundraising event, as well, McDonnell said.

They’re doing that even as they prepare to announce their first season, which will include three full productions and two play readings, as well as student outreach.

Meanwhile, members of the Rotary Club are working to find matching funds and other donations, as well.

Trish Jones grew up in Australia but lived in New York City where she watched Patsy Wygle and Keith Moore take part in New York plays before moving to Sun Valley. She likes to say she followed Patsy here and immediately began taking in the local theater scene.

“I’ve loved all the plays I’ve seen here,” she said. “We must find a way to keep it going.”

To learn more, visit https://www.libertytheatrecompany.org or call JD McConnell at 208-582-8384.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Rotary Club’s 35 members meet at noon Thursdays at the Community Campus. The public is invited  to join in.

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