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Renovated Taylor Theater nearing reopening date

Taylor Theater.jpg

The Taylor Theater sign on South Broad Street in Edenton is again lit up and flashing. The refurbished theater is expected to reopen to show first-run movies either late this month or in early May.

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By Miles Layton
Chowan Herald

Friday, April 13, 2018

EDENTON — Edenton’s Taylor Theater is nearing the start of its reopening act.

A storm damaged the iconic downtown theater in June, but local business people rallied to provide funds to purchase and restore the property on South Broad Street.

“The roof leaks are fixed,” said Charlie Creighton, one of the leaders of the group of investors who purchased the theater. “The inside has been cleaned up, the bathrooms have been remodeled and enlarged. Tile for the bathrooms is here and being replaced. The old carpet has been removed while new carpet has been ordered and will soon be in place. I think we're in good shape because a lot of progress has been made."

Paul Waff, owner of Waff Contracting, the firm handling the renovation work to the Taylor Theater building, said if everything goes as planned, the theater will be open either late this month or in early May.

Brenda Respass, who along with husband Ryan are the theater’s new operators, said their hope is to be open in time to screen one of the upcoming Marvel blockbuster films. 

“We're hoping that our first movie will be “Avengers: Infinity War” that opens in late April,” Belinda Respass said.

Also scheduled to hit the big screen on May 25 is the latest Star Wars installment, “Solo.”

“We're hoping these two movies will be a strong kick-off to summer,” Respass said.

Waff said water leaks have plagued the theater building on South Broad Street for years, so workers have been drying it out with a dehumidifier system to get the moisture under control. Gordon Sheet Metal & Roofing has placed a rubber membrane to protect the roof and there have been extensive modifications and repairs made to preserve and restore the theater to its former glory, Waff said.

“When we're done, it'll be solid for another 100 years, maybe longer,” Waff said.

Though current projects are intended to be completed so the theater can reopen soon, work behind to the theater’s main stage area behind the movie screen will be ongoing.

“Our goal is to get the theater up and running and then we will work behind the screen where the original stage area is located,” Waff said. “We have more area to work on back there, but we can do that later so that the theater can open soon.”

In recent weeks, the “Taylor” sign in front of the theater has undergone repairs so its lights now flash. Edenton residents got a sneak peek this week of what’s to come when the lights were illuminated.

Respass said she’s excited about the progress on the building.

“The sign has gotten a makeover, fresh paint, LED bulbs and we've made it so the sign can flash again,” she said. “That sign has not flashed in 12-13 years. People will be happy to see it light up again when they are driving downtown.”

The theater’s food permit has been approved. The theater plans to serve White Castle cheeseburgers, candy, popcorn, nachos, pretzels, fountain drinks and more.

“Everything that we've done, the inspector is completely on board with,” Respass said. “White Castle is in our back pocket and ready to sell to our customers. The food permit is working out nicely.”

The Respasses’ application for a permit to sell alcohol in the theater is still pending with the state.

“It is not a big hurdle, it's just a technicality involved from the wording of the lease,” Respass said.

For the Respasses, operating the newly renovated Taylor Theater will be “a dream come true.”

“We've been working for the theater for 20 years because it was a passion,” she said. “Now it has come full circle from me working there as a teenager to saying that I am a business owner on Broad Street.”

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