Big Plans for the Royal Theater

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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Hogansville City Council held a work session to discuss the progress on the soon-to-reopen Royal Theater. Lisa Kelly, the city manager, and Rob Dippel, the theater’s managing director, discussed programming, logistics and the grand reopening of the historic theater.  

A soft open concert is planned for the theater in early October. However, the main event is the grand opening on November 9. The event will be a black tie gala complete with food and a big band performance. 

Dippel said the search for volunteers has been a success so far, with 20 to 25 people already interested. The theater’s Facebook page is already live and soon the website will be up to notify the public on programming and news. 

While Dippel was not ready to release the names of the acts, as contracts are still being negotiated, the live events range from comedy tours to rock bands. There will also be movie showings at the Royal.

Movies will range in price from $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Dippel is aiming at putting on movies twice a week. There will be one showing a day for two days of the week. Council member Mandy Neese suggested the showtimes take school schedules into consideration, to make it easier for families to go to the movies together. 

“I don’t think we need to schedule the whole movie screening side on children…[But] I think you got to find the balance,” said Jake Ayers, Hogansville’s mayor. 

Live shows are trickier to schedule, however, Dippel and Kelly have been in contact with representatives of various groups and artists. Now that the Hogansville budget has been finalized for 2025, they said they could start making offers. 

Another consideration brought up was the calendar for the Sweetland Ampitheater in Lagrange. Ayers and Neese said due to the venue’s shortened programming season, it may be better to schedule live acts during their offseason to avoid competition.

“We do programming during the year, make their summers [series], that summers where you show more movies and things like that for the locals and residents and then you reverse your schedule and take up some of that time in the offseason,” Neese said. 

Ayers grouped the programming into three categories: Live shows, movies, and public rentals. 

Ayers expressed the importance of not missing rental opportunities to keep a regular bi-weekly movie schedule. Kelly assured him that the venue being available to the community was a priority. 

Kelly said they are ironing out memberships where people can get discounted prices or pre-sale tickets to some of the live events and movies. Another source of revenue Dippel will be pushing soon is sponsorships and the perks included in sponsoring the theater. 

While renovations are on their way to finishing, the theater is still in need of modifications in order to host live performances. Kelly said they are figuring out the best way to add a loading area for bands and performers to get their gear onto the stage. An issue they have run into so far is performer accommodations. There is currently no dressing room for performers. The two discussed the possibility of renting a trailer for some of the out-of-town acts. 

Both Dippel and Ayers recognized that many of the kinks with programming will be worked out once they open.

“I definitely understand this will be a work in progress,” Ayers said. “It sounds like you guys are putting a lot of effort into thinking through all the little nooks and crannies that might be missed.”

Dippel is already thinking past the opening day to the theater’s future.

“I’ve had a lot of folks in meetings and discussions in town that talk about their community theater experience. And I don’t see any reason why, [by] Fall next year that we don’t put our own productions on stage. And those are extremely lucrative,” Dippel said. 

With the opening only months, Dippel will soon flip the switch and light up the Royal Theater’s marquee for the first time in decades.