So, you managed to survive a year of not being able to go to the movies on account of the pandemic. Maybe you turned your focus to transforming your living/family room into an elaborate home theatre, furnished with über-comfy seating, snack tables, drink-holders, adjustable lighting and the biggest high-definition screen that your COVID-era paycheck could buy. But does that screening room include any genuine artifacts of the Golden Age of cinema palaces, like pressed-tin ceiling tiles or vintage movie posters?
No? Well, the Rosendale Theatre can fix that. The staff and volunteers of the Rosendale Theatre Collective (RTC) have spent the past year renovating the Little Moviehouse that Could on Rosendale’s Main Street, purging the accumulated detritus of more than 60 years as a family-owned neighborhood theater and ten more as a collectively operated not-for-profit arts organization. They cleaned out the backstage area and the attic, repurposed as much material as they could for renovation purposes, and are now organizing what’s left to sell at what they’ve dubbed the Rosendale Theatre Reno-Vision Preview and Memorabilia Sale.
Taking place at the Theatre, live and in-person, on Saturday, July 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Preview and Sale will be the general public’s first chance to see the space’s remarkable makeover. The lobby has been completely reconfigured to allow a much more open flow of traffic. Gleaming glass counters and display cases have replaced the wooden booth formerly used as a concession stand. The old linoleum has been torn up, the floor joists reinforced and “indestructible” faux-woodgrain vinyl flooring installed. The walls have been freshly painted in a restful pale blue, with one wall dedicated to displaying art. On another will hang a painting honoring RTC volunteers, beneath a plank discovered during renovation that was part of the shipping crate that brought the Theatre its original screen, inscribed with the address of former owner Anthony Cacchio, a/k/a Uncle Tony.
Inside the Theatre itself, the old carpeting has been torn up, exposing the original wood floors. All the seats have been deep-cleaned; according to facilities manager Fre Atlast, “The best purchase we ever made was a commercial steam-cleaner.” And 45 of those seats will be for sale, removed to make room in front of the stage for classes, events and performances. “I think that people who love the Theatre might put two seats on their porch,” Atlast suggests.
These are true vintage theatre seats from the cinema’s opening in 1949, with maroon brocade upholstery, hardwood arms and cast-iron sides. A few of the seats have repairs sewn by hand by Mrs. Cacchio herself back in the day. This is someone’s chance to own an authentic bit of picture-show history, for sure. The box into which the Cacchios deposited ticket stubs during their years of operating the Theatre is another bit of memorabilia that some lucky person can acquire.
Also for sale will be cartons and cartons of movie posters from Uncle Tony’s collection. The earliest date back to the 1980s, so nothing truly historical; but many evoke Oscar-winners, cult or genre classics, foreign films and quirky indie fare that are worth delving into. Uncle Tony also collected film-related books, and those will be for sale as well.
For techies, there’s a whole list of equipment available, ranging from vintage stagelights to modern electronics and audio gear, including “an amp, brand-new, still in the box,” says Atlast. She notes that not all the scrap lumber salvaged from the big cleanout ended up getting reused, so folks experiencing sticker shock from the elevated price of building materials during the pandemic may be interested in checking out the Theatre’s “stashes of trim” that are “worth their weight in gold” these days.
Oh, and those pressed-tin ceiling tiles mentioned above? They’re the real deal, in three-by-four-foot sheets, “removed from the second floor during the renovation of the front of the building. We found them stored up in the attic,” Atlast tells us. Some old-house enthusiast you know seriously needs these.
There will be no online sales; purchases will be by donation, so make an offer and be prepared to haggle a bit, if you’re not feeling especially generous. But do bear in mind that it has been a horrible year for not-for-profit performance venues, with no ticket sales since March of 2020.
Also available at the Memorabilia Sale will be the usual swag with the RTC logo: tee-shirts, totebags, mugs and so on. Every visitor will get a complimentary water bottle. And, for the first time ever at the Rosendale Theatre, you can buy freshly popped popcorn with real butter. Come check out the cool old stuff and the spiffy new space, which plans to host a community celebration and 11th anniversary celebration on August 19. Full reopening awaits delivery of an upgraded ventilation system, scheduled for September – around the time that the Theatre also expects to obtain its tavern license. Expect entertaining times ahead!
To follow RTC’s reopening progress, visit www.facebook.com/rosendaletheatre.