• Atlanta Northcutt

Park Theater: The Jewel of McMinnville Will Continue to Shine

Updated: Jun 4

By: Atlanta Northcutt --- Reporter for the Southern Standard

The lights of the Park Theater marquee illuminating the sidewalks of Main Street are a welcoming sight to both locals and visitors from around the region. When entering the theater, patrons know they are in for a professional production filled with exceptional talent. It is a wholesome and enjoyable experience for all who enter the historic Park Theater.

The theater was first built in May of 1939 as a movie theater with room for 1,000 people. After a fire destroyed the stage in 1948 and sold by the Cumberland Amusement Company, the building was gutted and turned into the social security administrative office. The fight for the Park Theater restoration began in 2010, allowing the venue to re-open its doors in May of 2015. There are now 559 seats available to hold audience members on both the floor and balcony.

Thousands of artists have performed on the theatre’s stage. A wide variety of talented and well-known musicians, including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Larry Gatlin, the Steeldrivers, Restless Heart, Big Smo, Davina & the Vagabonds, Jason Crabb and more, have appeared at the Park Theater. Comedians James Gregory and Henry Cho, along with a large number of gospel and Christian bands, such as the Kingsmen and the McKameys, have presented their acts and songs on stage. John Berry, a Grammy Award-winning musician, is expected to bring the largest crowd to the Park Theater this spring.

Theatrical performances are a regular part of the line-up at the Park Theater. Dream Reality Group, led by McMinnville native Logan Taylor, puts on off-Broadway productions of hits like Tarzan and Footloose. The theater often has to add encore shows because of the many that sell out due to their popularity. The high-end performances are a wonderful way for members of the creative community and children interested in performing to be given a platform to express themselves.

The Park Theater is a beacon for the community as it has helped bring life back to the Main Street area. Hundreds of people come for a show and end up eating at the restaurants, shopping at the local stores and staying at the hotels in town. Manager Kevin Roberts says, “The theater has become the jewel of McMinnville.” People come from North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia and all throughout the region to attend various performances. These visitors bring more money and commerce into the community, as well as grow the tourism industry in Warren County.

The theater is reminiscent of past memories from locals who had previously attended movies there when they were young and is now becoming intergenerational, continuing those beloved memories and creating new ones. It is a warm, welcoming and family-oriented environment. The prices are kept low and the concession stands are run by non-profit organizations, such as the Exchange Club, the Vietnam veterans and more, who make the experience more personable and friendly, adding to the feeling of community.

Occasional free movies are shown throughout the year, including a summer movie series and a fourth of July film. The theatre also rents out the space for weddings, parties, reunions and more. The admittance prices are kept low enough to allow a family on a budget to easily come and enjoy a show. The Park Theater offers a Dinner and a Show experience for select performances. The price includes a delicious dinner and dessert from a local restaurant, unlimited beverages and live entertainment. Gift certificates are available for purchase, as well.

The theater is currently only available for booking events due to COVID-19. More information can be obtained by calling 931-506-ARTS. To book reservations or have any questions answered, call the theatre, and the staff will be happy to help with any specials needs and provide the information needed.

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