Garland Festival, construction progress • St Pete Catalyst

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Beach Theater name will be associated with movies this summer.

However, they will not be on screen at the 82-year-old St. Pete Beach cinema. Although renovations are underway, turning the beach into a newly landscaped space for movies, concerts, and community performances, it’s just not ready yet.

Instead, the theater owners plan to show four movies in June, one on each of the first four Wednesdays, outdoors at the Col. Michael J. Horan Park, at the west end of Corey Causeway/Pasadena Avenue.

The free movies, presented in conjunction with the City of St. Beach and various sponsors, celebrate what would have been Judy Garland’s birthday on June 10. Those are :

The Wizard of Oz (1939). June 1, 8 p.m.

The clock (1945). June 8, 8 p.m.

summer stock (1950). June 15, 8 p.m.

A star is born June 22, 8 p.m.

Food and beverage trucks will be on site and begin serving at 7 p.m.

Chairs and blankets are encouraged; no umbrellas.

Christopher Scott and his wife Maria, inside the Beach Theater on September 13, 2021. Pictured: Bill DeYoung.

Architectural plans have been finalized for the new theater layout, according to Chris Scott, who purchased the building at 315 Corey Ave. last fall. “And I’ve met entrepreneurs and met people who are potentially interested in sponsoring parts of the theater or contributing to it.”

The installation will be “great when it’s done,” Scott said, “but the potential costs are quite high.”

In September, Scott formed The Beach Theater Community Foundation, Inc.to accept donations for restoration into a multi-purpose entertainment venue, which community members have requested in a public meeting and through surveys.

The funds received paid for the total cleaning of the interior of the theatre, including the removal of old seats and much-needed repairs to the roof.

“It’s overwhelming, the generosity of people,” Scott said. “It’s about keeping the lights on and paying the little bills. And that’s great because it keeps the connection going and keeps people involved.

Several thousand dollars came from a recent raffle of vintage movie posters, discovered rolled up – in pristine condition – in a theater storage.

Still to be done: The “refurb” work (interior construction), the fixtures and fittings, and the technical part of things (projector, sound and screen, etc.). There is work to do.

Of course, it’s possible for just one well-meaning donor or philanthropist to show up and pay for it all. Naming rights, Scott said, will be on the table.

In the meantime, anyone with any expertise is welcome. “The message is still the same,” Scott said. “If people want to help and they can help in practical ways, not just financially, please reach out to us. Because it’s a big job.

“And I think the approach we take is this: the more people we involve, the more it will look like community theatre.

“I’m here for the long haul. We want this to be open as soon as possible.

READ MORE: VINTAGE ST. PETE: Michael France and the Beach Theater

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