Port Townsend's Upotown Theatre reopens with beefed-up interior, lighting
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Uptown Theatre manager Carli Rose sits in the newly installed VIP section while inspecting the menu that will be served to patrons in that section. The renovated theater opened in January.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– Like so many Hollywood stars whose age has started to show, the Uptown Theatre has made a grand reappearance with a comprehensive face-lift just in time to screen this year's rich slate of Oscar-contending movies.

“We did a bunch of cosmetic surgery, and now we have one hell of a good-as-new auditorium,” theater owner Rick Wiley said.

Closed since November, the theater peeled off the bandages Jan. 10 to unveil a $40,000 renovation and has since shown the Academy Award-nominated films “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “August: Osage County” and currently “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Wiley and company have completely redone the 67-year-old theater, installing a new floor, carpet, seats, drapes and trim, and beefing up the movie house's lighting system.

“It's gorgeous. When we're all done with this thing, it's going to be the theater in Jefferson County,” Wiley said.

He still has more work to do. He plans to tune up the lobby and concessions stand, then move on to refinishing the theater's exterior.

“We have to make it healthy inside before we start to do too much work on the outside,” Wiley said.

Also, thanks to a new law recently passed by the state Legislature, adults who come to watch in their special new lounge area will be able to pair beer and wine with their popcorn and Milk Duds.

Like the old days

Wiley likened it to the old days of cinema, when children and adults had separate sections to view the stars of the silver screen.

“We're going to bring it back to what it was when this place first opened,” he said.

The remodel process got a slow start, as a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds busted out shortly after Wiley closed the theater.

The online fundraising site does not allow those seeking donations to take the pledged money until all of it is raised.

Already into the remodel, Wiley set up another fund account on the website www.indiegogo.com, which does allow for partial donations.

Wiley chipped in a significant portion of his own money, while several of his friends and neighbors also stepped up.

“Obviously, that was a huge, integral part in making this happening and allowing us to do this conversion,” he said.

“We couldn't have done it without the help of some very nice, very generous people in this community. There's lots of friends of the Uptown.”

For showtimes or to donate to the renovation, visit the theater's website, www.ptuptowntheatre.com.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 04. 2014 7:41PM
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