In 1929, E.E. Gailey, who was operating the successful Crystal Theatre in Wayne, decided to expand his business with another theatre. Mr. Gailey named it after himself: The Gay Theatre. By 1942, the Crystal had been renamed to the CoEd, and it and The Gay were owned by the March Brothers. In 1992, he built a wall in the middle of The Gay, giving it two screens, and he renamed it The March Twin. It remained a two-screen theatre until it closed its doors for the first time in 79 years.
Once The March Twin closed, something missing from downtown. We were missing a place to hang out, a place to go on a date, a place for kids to see their first movie… What we were missing was a place to take part in a great American experience. When the theatre closed, a group of determined people got together and decided that Wayne deserved to have a movie theater. That group, with help from the Wayne Area Economic Development Institute, set about raising the money to buy the building and revitalize and reopen the theater. Surely there was a way to reopen this theatre? And surely there was a way to bring in the Wayne Community Theatre Group, who needed a stage when the theatre happened to have a spare one? Soon they had momentum and the project was off.
First, the entire building had to be gutted. Demolition began in August of 2009, and volunteers got sweaty and dusty, and then cold and dusty, as demo continued into the winter. Finally, in early spring 2010, reconstruction could begin. There were lots of surprises (What do you mean this building has no insulation?!?) and some setbacks (We have to buy a new marquee?!?) but our volunteers and community supporters kept working. While our volunteers sweated, then shivered, then sweated to get the theatre rebuilt, work continued to get the business side of the theatre ready to go. The community voted on which seats we wanted, and what the name should be. The Chanticleer? The Legacy? The Brookdale? In the end, The Majestic won handily.
By fall of 2010 the project had reached the point of no return: one way or another, this theatre was going to be finished. As the cold weather moved in again, nobody could miss the activity on our end of Main Street. The new marquee was up, the inside had been painted, the new lights were on day and night as volunteers worked to get it finished. Speculation began about what our first movie would be. Popcorn and soda machines took their place on counters that had only been in place a few weeks. People would come in to see the progress and finally it reached a point where they had to admit they just didn’t recognize the place anymore.
Finally, on December 18, 2010, The Majestic Theatre opened its doors with an afternoon of free movies, and then we sold our first ticket. Since then we’ve sold over 100,000 tickets, and tons of popcorn, and gallons of soda. And we’re having the time of our lives, every weekend, being part of our community. And how does this story end? In a dark room, in a comfy seat, with popcorn in one hand and a soda in the other, eyes open, doing something that we can once again take for granted: watching a movie on a big screen. And we hope you’re here with us for a long, long time.