Lights, camera, upgrades

Dr. Stewart Richardson recently removed the last celluloid based movie out of the Fallon Theatre.

Dr. Stewart Richardson recently removed the last celluloid based movie out of the Fallon Theatre.

The Fallon Theatres has recently undergone major renovation and will continue to see upgrades to restore the interior to its former glory with modern amenities.

Dr. Stewart Richardson currently owns the Fallon Theatres and has been steadily working on the building to make it more comfortable and modern for movie fans.

Richardson said the theater has covered the majority of the seats with denim jeans and replaced the seat padding thanks the volunteer group, Fallon Community Theatre, Inc.

Both theaters have received new digital projectors. He said the digital projectors replace the old 35mm projectors, and the digital format allows newer releases to be scheduled. There were small improvements to the snack bar such as a new sink and icemakers.

“There is still a lot of work left to finish the list of improvements,” he said. “There are repairs to the ceiling that need to be done, replace some drain pipes, replace all carpet, wall coverings and renovate the original stage and add lights for live productions.”

The lower theater, Richardson said, will double as a place to show films and also serve as a venue for live events. He said the Rising Sun Gallery & Art Studio produced the children’s theater production of “Sleeping Beauty – A Tale Told Slightly Off the Wall” on the stage on May 23.

“Several suggestions on how to improve the stage as a performance venue came through our experience of having Sleeping Beauty performed here,” he said. “We also hope to live-stream events since we added high speed Internet.”

Richardson said the project could easily take up to five years to complete. Although, Richardson enjoys owning the theater, it soon will have a new owner. The Fallon Community Theatre, Inc. will take over ownership, he said.

“With the nonprofit group taking over, it will allow them to have better access to grant funding,” he said. “Nonprofit organizations have the ability to expedite grant funding for renovations a lot easier then a private individual. I’ve been struggling getting grants for the theater, so this is a good thing.”

Richardson believes a local theater is an important part of a cultural experience for a child. He said it’s a great part of Americana, and he didn’t want to see the doors close.

“I really do believe it’s an important part of growing up, especially in a small town,” he said.

The Fallon Theatres, once named the Rex Theatre, was built in 1920 by J. W. Flood. The theater, built with a balcony and main floor could seat 1,150 people. The theater was also fitted with a $20,000 organ that drew in prominent individuals from Reno.

In the 1930s the theater was purchased by two men that decided to renovate the theater to make it more sound friendly for sound films, also know as “talkies.” The upstairs balcony was torn down and the seats were refitted to slope up from the stage, allowing for a capacity of 500 seats.

The theater was then renamed the Fallon Theatres. It was one of the largest theaters in Nevada and only one of two theaters in the state built for showing of sound pictures.

The theater has survived two fires and the earthquake of 1954.

Bob and Mary Beth Erickson and Bill and Nancy Janess then purchased the theater in 1978. The Ericksons then purchased full right of the theater from the Jeness in 1984. When the Erickson’s and Janess’s owned the theater, they updated the building again with a sound wall to convert the large auditorium into two theaters with about 155 seats in each and update the projection equipment.

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