A Main Street Movie Theatre Returns To Former Glory In Ashland

by | Jan 29, 2019 | FILM & TV

From first-run movies and a unique, locally-focused atmosphere to live music presented by the Broadberry Entertainment Group, the Ashland Theatre’s got it all.

Local is EVERYTHING. And at the Ashland Theatre, Ashland is exactly what you get. The rich history, the architecture, the food, the music, everything.

“When we opened we wanted to make sure we had Homemades by Suzanne in our concessions, Center of the Universe beer in our bars, and that when you come to visit the Ashland Theatre, that you get a real taste of Ashland,” said Douglas Love, CEO of the Ashland Theatre Foundation.

After having been mostly shut down since the 90s, the Ashland Theatre, located 30 minutes north of Richmond in the town of Ashland, was renovated last year. It reopened its doors on December 26th for a soft opening with the movie Mary Poppins Returns, and the screening featured a surprise visit from Poppins herself.

“[Our goal] is to make this as homespun as we can, something you can’t get from a chain,” said Love. “So having a Mary Poppins impersonator, those kinds of things are on-mission for us.”

Along with visits from Mary Poppins, the team at the Ashland Theatre is working to bring that little extra something to every event. For their run of Bohemian Rhapsody (which, yes, it’s the sing-a-long version!), they will have fake mustaches for every guest. They even have plans in the works for special event-specific drinks.

They may have begun with movies, but the Ashland Theatre has plans to go beyond filmed entertainment, bringing panels, speakers, and concerts to the theatre this year. Later in 2019, they will be hosting a panel called “Untold Stories,” in which Ashland’s elders will sit for an oral passing-down of the town’s history through the civil rights movement.

Their grand opening weekend, which takes place on the weekend of February 22-24, will feature a movie and speaker night with Ashland native Matt Green on Friday, February 22. Guests will view The World Before Your Feet, the documentary on Green’s quest to walk every block of New York City’s streets over the course of seven years. The event will also feature a conversation with Green himself.

“The community involvement of the theatre and its whole mission makes the space very special,” said Lucas Fritz, co-owner of the Broadberry Entertainment Group. “It seems as if everyone in the town is in some way or another, involved with the theatre in one way or another.”

The Trongone Band. Photo via Facebook

The Ashland Theatre has teamed up with the Broadberry Entertainment Group to procure a line-up bands designed especially for Ashland. 

“Ultimately our conversations lead to, ‘What if you guys book and promote the music here and curate something for Ashland that’s not playing other places?’” said Love. “That way, it’s not just about moving bands that play at the Broadberry up [to Ashland], but an entirely separate effort. A designed curated concert series, joining forces with them, making it something that is unique to the Ashland Theatre, [something that] reflects the audience that we’re still figuring out.”

Love and Fritz have decided to go in the direction of an eclectic and wide-ranging selection of musicians, to really explore what it means to have an Ashland sound.

“We are working hard to make sure that the artists that come through the Ashland Theatre fit perfectly. It will take a little bit of work to curate the lineup and find the perfect artists but we feel as if we’re off to a great start,” said Fritz.

Following the theatre’s Grand Opening weekend, the Broadberry Entertainment Group will be presenting a regular line-up of concerts at the Ashland Theatre, starting with two Americana-infused Southern Rock’n’roll bands, Richmond natives The Trongone Band and Raleigh, NC’s American Aquarium.  

As for that special local flair, The Broadberry Entertainment Group and the Ashland Theatre will continue to strive to provide events that allow guests to get up close and personal with artists.

“We will work with artists, agents, and managers to curate unique experiences that are special to the Ashland Theatre,” said Fritz. “That way, when concertgoers attend concerts, they will have chances to do things that they may not at other locations.”

With limited seating, and that hometown feel, the Ashland Theatre is ready to offer experiences you won’t forget.

The Ashland Theatre is currently showing The Favorite and Mary Queen Of Scots, and will be showing Green Book and Vice starting Friday. Check their website for showtimes and tickets.

Top photo: Ashland Theatre/via Facebook

Alicen Hackney

Alicen Hackney

Alicen Hackney is a music journalism student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. Her passion is sharing and exploring music and it's cultural ties, and she is always looking for new artists and styles.

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