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Egyptian's opening night revisited

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Photo submitted The three usherettes shown in front of the Egyptian Theater are dressed exactly like the original usherettes in 1928. They are, left to right, Autumn Jackson, Lilly Day Buchser and Mary Morgan Hinz, and are standing in front of a 1933 Nash

A matinee hosted by the Delta County Historical Society on Saturday, Oct. 14, brought a different type of venue to the theater as it presented the opening night experience to theater patrons as it might have looked on Oct. 1, 1928. On that occasion, two movies -- silent films -- were shown along with a stage act or two, all highlighted with music from the Robert Morton theater organ then installed at the Egyptian. The organ was about one-sixth of the cost of the entire theater in 1928.

In keeping with the historic aspect of the occasion, three usherettes were dressed in gold and crimson attire identical to those worn at the theater at the gala grand opening.

On this occasion, Paonia musician David Snider provided the organ music from a keyboard, entertaining the audience much like it might have been done 89 years ago by Denver organist, Mary Upson, brought in for the opening night gala.

Following this opening music, the first of two locally produced movies was shown, a 20 minute "History of the Delta Egyptian Theater" film produced and directed by Jim Wetzel, local historian and curator of the Delta County Museum.

After this movie, two stage acts were presented, the first being another performance by David Snider on the "organ," followed by a musical pantomine lip-sync performance by Nancy Wood portraying 1928 performer Helen Kane who introduced and sang a hit song known even today titled, "I Wanna Be Loved By You."

Prior to the second movie, a drawing for $500 cash was held, with Jeannie Dewsnup, owner/manager of the Egyptian Theater for 50 years, picking the winning ticket. The cash prize was won by local businessman Les Renfrow, who promptly donated the cash back to the historical society. Several additional drawings were picked for free theater passes donated by Jeannie Dewsnup.

The final movie, a one-hour film titled, "Rediscovering Delta History - The Movie," produced by Jim Wetzel in 2014, brought the afternoon program to a close. DVDs of both movies can be purchased at the Delta County Museum.

Delta's Egyptian Theater is one of six remaining Egyptian-theme theaters built in the late 1920s out of more than 100 theaters built then. All six have undergone restoration over the years, with our local theater having undergone a major restoration completed 20 years ago. The Dewsnup family also owns and operates the TruVu drive-in theater in Delta, built originally in 1954.

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