Ohio County's Courthouse Players are hoping for an upgrade that will also preserve a bit of history.
The 37-year-old theater group is hosting a fundraiser Nov. 2 that will feature dinner and a show. "Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine" by Michael Bruce is a comedy murder mystery that centers around a theater troop saying goodbye to their matriarch. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward purchasing new seats for the Courthouse Players Theatre, which resides in the top floor of the Ohio County Courthouse.
The current seats in the CHP auditorium have been in place since 1982 when the theater first opened. Before that, the seats were inside of Hartford's original movie house, the Kentucky Theatre, which was open from 1932 through the late 1970s.
Debbie Boehmann, chairwoman of the CHP, said it was the hope of the board of directors to not only raise funds for the new seats, but to also keep the history of the old seats alive. That is why she came up with the idea to sell the seats to those interested.
"The chairs are for sale for $1,000 for a row of nine, $750 for a row of six, and individual seats are $150 each," Boehmann said. "I've already sold two rows, and I'm hoping to sell at least 10."
She said a lot of people have been interested in the seats, especially considering their long history. Those seats have seen a lot of movies and plays and have been a part of many a memory.
Tony Frizzell, of Beaver Dam, started working in the movie theater business at 15 when he became the projectionist for Beaver Dam's Majestic Theater in 1957. When it closed down, he went to work for the Kentucky Theatre and stayed there until 1982 when the Mall Cinema opened in the Spinks Shopping Center on Kentucky 231.
"We left Kentucky in 1982 and moved out to the Mall Cinema," Frizzell said. "We kept the Kentucky open only on the weekends."
Frizzell purchased the Mall Cinema in 1984, along with Beaver Dam's drive-in, and he owned them both until 2016.
"I don't know where the seats came from, but they were there way back when I started working (at Kentucky Theatre)," Frizzell said. "So they must be pretty old."
Boehmann said proceeds from the upcoming dinner, along with recent show sales, will go toward purchasing the new seats. She said the CHP still has about $10,000 to raise for the seats, and she plans to ask the Ohio County Fiscal Court and the Beaver Dam Tourism Commission for assistance.
"We want to upgrade, but also think it's important not to just throw the old seats away," she said. "Think about the people who sat in these seats. They've been here in this theater since our beginning, and had a whole life before that."
"Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2, and will be catered by Hartford restaurant Capers Cafe. Tickets are $30 each and will be sold up until a week before the show. They are available by calling the Courthouse Players Theatre at 270-298-4862 Boehmann at 270-570-0452.
Those interested in purchasing seats may also call the CHP number, or Boehmann.
The event will take place in the CHP Theatre, at 301 South Main St. in Hartford.
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315.