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South Hill’s restored Colonial theatre unveiled

SoVaNow.com / January 24, 2011
The Colonial Center Theatre in South Hill celebrated its opening Saturday night with a cocktail party and local entertainment.

Eric Sadoski of Alton is its production manager and Lisa Vaughan Jordan is the center’s director.

The 400-seat Colonial’s first performance will be the 2011 Mrs. Virginia Pageant on Feb. 5. Beatlemagic, a tribute band, appears Feb. 19. WRAL-TV personality Pam Saulsby, also a jazz singer, will appear March 12. Folk and Irish guitarist John Doyle is on the calendar for April 19.

The 1925 vaudeville-theatre-turned-movie-house had not been used for entertainment since the 1970s until Earl Horne, South Hill’s mayor for 23 years, undertook its renovation nine years ago.

The three-story 14,571-square foot brick structure in downtown was near the railroad station, which made possible visits by such well-known entertainers as Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, Louis Homer, Vilma Banky, Ronald Colman, Tex Ritter, Minnie Pearl, Jack Ritchie and the Texas Rhythm Rangers, Gene Autry and his horse Champion, and Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger.

In 2001, the South Hill Civic Center raised $75,000 to purchase the Colonial Theatre, which it donated to the present owner, the South Hill Community Development Authority. Donations for the renovation came from private individuals and businesses as well as grants from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and HUD.

The Colonial Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

With the massive renovation, the Colonial hopes to present touring professional performers as well as local talent. The Colonial Actors Theatre Society, the theatre’s amateur troupe, plans to stage musicals and plays several times a year. It also boasts two small art galleries, a welcome center and a banquet/meeting room.

Its new website, from which tickets may be ordered, was scheduled to go online today: http://www.colonialcenterva.org/.

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