Historic Star Theater in Weiser, Idaho replacing old seats, thanks to donation

The nonprofit Onion Skin Players hope to replace all the old seats in the Star Theater in downtown Weiser with newer, wider seats donated by The Reel Theater by this fall. The Onion Skin Players are selling the old seats to raise funds for theater improvements, including an exterior paint job this summer. Some patrons complained that the old seats were too narrow.
Steve Lyon
 Anyone who wants to own a piece of local history has the opportunity right now to buy a vintage seat or two straight from the Star Theater in downtown Weiser.
 The vintage seats are coming out to make room for newer, wider seats donated by The Reel Theater. The Onion Skin Players, the nonprofit group that owns the theater, is selling the vintage seats for $50 each with a two-seat minimum. The way the chairs are put together a single seat cannot stand alone so they have to be sold in pairs. The theater currently has 460 seats.
 Volunteers have already started installing the new seats in the Star Theater, a process that will take a while but should be finished by September. The new seats are wider and more comfortable and even come with a beverage holder. They take up a little more space, so there will be about 50 fewer seats in the theater when the project is done.
 Ruth Creek, one of the founders of the Onion Skins, said theater patrons have complained over the years that the seats were too narrow. Upgrading the seating will hopefully bring some of those people back for productions, she said.
 “We are so excited about this,” Creek said.
 The donation of the slightly used seats by The Reel Theater represents a big savings for the Onion Skin Players. Officials with the nonprofit had checked into the cost of new seats and were quoted a price of $150,000, Creek said.
 The group is also raising funds to paint the exterior of the theater this fall in its original colors of blue and yellow. The painting, along with some other repairs needed to the front windows, will cost about $4,000.
 Volunteers with the Onion Skin Players powerwashed the outside of the building in preparation for painting. They will paint the lower half of the building and a professional painter with the necessary equipment to reach heights will paint the upper half of the building.
 A grant from the Malheur County Coalition Trust will pay for some of the work on the theater, which is listed on the historic register. Upkeep of the 102-year-old building is ongoing and costs money.
 “They felt that our project was extremely important,” Creek said.
 The organization last fall finished a renovation of the theater’s iconic marquee, which included new electrical wiring, neon, light bulbs, painting and prismatic letters. It was an expensive job that cost more than $8,000.
 The Onion Skin Players were one of 500 nonprofits across the state that signed up to participate in the Idaho Gives 24 hours of online fundraising on May 2. Donations from the event totaled $535 so far for the group. 
 Creek said the eventual goal is to get more use out of the facility and allow others to use it for events. Renting out the theater could earn revenue to continue with improvements and make the theater self-sustaining financially. 
 The Onion Skin Players have been around for 34 years and call the Star Theater home. The volunteers stage a melodrama every March. Tryouts for the production are always held on the first Monday and Tuesday in December.
 For more information or to order the chairs, call 208 550-5685.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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