Crystal Theatre fundraiser geared toward patron comfort

Mary Beth Sutton and Val Smith show an example of the new seats for the theater. They will be wider and have more support. A color for the cloth seats hasn’t been selected.

Volunteers behind the Crystal Theatre want you to take a seat.
The idea is the heart of a fundraiser to replace all of the chairs at the theater, roughly 220 of the, with a slightly wider, more comfortable model. The goal is to raise about $60,000.
A campaign starting this month offers supporters the chance to purchase a new seat for the theater for $300 each and can include the person’s name on a small plaque on the back. The chairs also can be bought in honor or memory of someone else and can be donated by businesses.
“The other seats, they’ve been great. They’ve reached their life expectancy. They’re getting harder to repair,” said Dan Sutton, president of the theater group. In some cases, the chairs aren’t able to be fixed anymore.
“They were old when we got them,” said Nancy Carlsrud, treasurer of the board.
The existing red seats came from the theater in Mitchell in the mid-1990s and were rehabilitated for a dollar each by prison industries at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. The seats sit low to the ground making it difficult for patrons to get up and down, and the plastic cupholders snap off easily.
The new seats, which will be a couple inches wider at 24 inches, will have more support and will have a different style of cupholder. The existing seats, 21 and 22 inches wide, will be removed by volunteers, and the new seats will be installed by Combined Building Specialties of Sioux Falls, the company selling them, Sutton said. He is looking for anyone who wants to help with the project, with installation possible late this year or early next.
The Crystal is back to a full entertainment schedule this year, after it closed because of COVID-19 last year. All of the fundraisers, such as an upcoming pie sale on July 30, also will be used to pay for the chairs.
The group at the Crystal has been talking about replacing the chairs for about 10 years, but other big-ticket items have taken priority. “Now, we just made the commitment this has to be a priority to get done at the theater to sustain that quality experience we’ve been able to provide at the theater for many, many years,” Sutton said.
The group, with conservative fiscal management, an endowment and the generosity of people and businesses who support it, also have been able to complete other recent upgrades at the 112-year old building.
Workers installed a bladder-style roof in an area that was leaking and put down epoxy floors in the concession and restroom areas. Those projects together cost about $20,000. Work also is planned for a couple areas on the front exterior of the building.
The theater also bought two new spotlights as well as a center light that can be used when performers come up and down the aisles. New equipment, which cost about $2,500, uses up-to-date technology and LED lighting, Sutton said. “They’re smaller, quieter and brighter.”
This year’s full schedule of entertainment will help the theater get back on track, he said.
“Last year was tough. We didn’t have anything last year, but we still had ongoing expenses,” he said.
Season tickets are $50 and can be used for all performances. This year’s shows and events include:
•July 30-31, J.C. Wade Children’s Theatre by Missoula Children’s Theatre presents
“Johnny Appleseed,” 7 p.m.
•July 30, pie sale fundraiser, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
•Aug 28, the stand-up and musical comedy show by Doug and Lynelle Snyder, along with their children and others, 7:30 p.m.
•Sept. 11, Jazz Curators and JAS Quintet present “1959, The Shape of Change to Come,” 7:30 p.m.
•Sept. 24, Pianist Calvin Jones, 7:30 p.m.
•Sept. 25, Tour of Tables fundraiser at the William J. Janklow Community Center, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
•Nov. 4, 5, 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 7 at 2 p.m., “Elf, the Musical.”
•Dec. 11, Community Christmas Show, 7:30 p.m.

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