Reel Time

Wayne Theatre celebrates 90 years.

On Jan. 22, the historic Wayne Theatre/Ross Performing Arts Center in Waynesboro celebrated its 90th birthday with special screenings of silent films accompanied by live music from the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra.

“It was exciting to provide something on the birthday weekend that took you back to the time period of when the Wayne opened,” says Executive Director Tracy Straight. The theater originally debuted on Jan. 18, 1926, as the city’s first vaudeville and silent film theater.

The orchestra, which is a year-round ensemble devoted to performing movie and other orchestral scores from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, played the original scores to The Playhouse (1921) with Buster Keaton, Get Out and Get Under (1920) with Harold Lloyd and Easy Street (1916) with Charlie Chaplin as the films played on the Wayne Theatre’s big screen. In between the films, the orchestra played “Reel Change” music, harking back to the early days of film.

“It was wonderful. People loved it! They’re already asking me to bring [the orchestra] back,” says Straight.

The audience of several hundred laughed, clapped, and even booed at villains on the screen. “It was a very engaging experience—not like sitting in a silent audience,” explains Straight. As with other classic films that appear in the theater, “People may have seen these films before, however not on a big screen and with an orchestra.”

A grant to the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra from the National Endowment for the Arts made the program possible.

During intermission, audience members enjoyed cupcakes prepared by the Paris Cake Company in Staunton.

Before accepting her current position, Straight was a longtime board member of the Wayne Theatre Alliance, a nonprofit organization that raised more than $11 million for the renovation and reopening of the theater in March 2016. After the neoclassical theater was closed in 2000, it took 16 years and help from the community for it to reopen. Now known as the Wayne Theatre/Ross Performing Arts Center, the theater has drawn more than 25,000 visitors since that time. Musical events, art shows, speakers, and classic films are among the offerings.

“It’s still surreal,” Straight says of the reopening, following the many years of work. “It was such a group effort. The whole project was started by the community and now it’s like a gift being given back to the community.”

Upcoming events at the Wayne Theatre:

I Love Broadway: An Evening of Song
Feb. 3-4, 7 p.m.  
Enjoy talented area singers and actors as they perform songs from The King and I, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and others. Tickets $10-$12

Young Irelanders
Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.
A traditional Celtic band made up of musicians and dancers, the Young Irelanders have shared the stage with Bono, performed with Riverdance, and appeared before three U.S. presidents. Tickets $25 adults, $15 students

Hilleman—A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children
Feb. 21 (Hilleman) at 7 p.m.
An inspiring documentary about pioneering scientist Dr. Maurice Hilleman who developed the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and others. The first of three films to be presented as part of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation’s On Screen/In Person 2017 program. Additional screenings will be held March 23 (Real Boy) and April 6 (States of Grace). A discussion with the filmmakers will follow each presentation.
Tickets $10 adults, $7 students

Annie Moses Band
March 3, 7:30 p.m.
Enjoy this group of six talented siblings who have performed their special brand of folk/classical music before audiences from Carnegie Hall to the Grand Ole Opry.
Tickets $17-$42

PUSH Physical Theatre
March 11, 8 p.m.
Finalists on truTV’s Fake Off series, PUSH Physical Theatre is made up of a group of performers who awe audiences with their physical illusions and dance-infused acrobatics.
Tickets $26/$28
June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum