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Community support, that’s the ticket

It’s great to see community take care of community — always — but especially at tumultuous times like these. That goes no matter what the cause, in any field. And with the upcoming JAWS: Special Drive-In Movie Benefit Event at the Sharon Playhouse planned for Sunday, Sept. 6, with gates opening at 6 p.m., an introduction by author Nat Benchley at 7:15 p.m. and the film beginning at 7:45 p.m., that’s exactly what is happening.

The drive-in movie benefit, which readers can learn all about in this week’s front page article written by reporter Kaitlin Lyle, is the perfect example of a local business that is so much more, doing just that. The Sharon Playhouse is a regional, nonprofit theater that produces top-level performances with “Broadway caliber actors as well as talented local community members,” according to its website. The Playhouse’s mission is to entertain the region “while also serving as a teaching theater to encourage aspiring actors and other theater professionals of all ages to develop their craft.” The Sharon Playhouse now is offering its help to a fellow community theater.

While pursuing its goals in this age of COVID-19, amid all the community shutdowns and business closures, the Sharon Playhouse has offered its hand to The Millerton Moviehouse, which has been shuttered since March 15, operating only virtually and earning just a fraction of its former income, suggesting the “Jaws” fundraiser. In fact, there will  be a series of drive-in movie fundraisers throughout the month of September at the Sharon Playhouse, every Sunday, to benefit the Millerton movie theater.

The Moviehouse, which has described itself on its website as “independent cinema… and a vital economic anchor” in the community, also stated it is looking to “re-open as soon as our local and state health authorities say it is safe to do so, which hopefully, will be very soon.” We hope this economic anchor will do so very soon, too. For that is exactly what it is — an economic anchor. 

The Moviehouse is both a key business and a vital piece of architecture in the village of Millerton. The historic clocktower that sits atop the Moviehouse, which co-owners and founders Carol and the late Robert Sadlon worked so hard to raise money to rehabilitate back in 2005, is one of Main Street’s most prized possessions. It’s part of what gives the village its charm. The Sadlons, along with Townscape, fought to get that clocktower restored to its former glory and in proper working order again; they were instrumental in returning that piece of public architecture back to the community for its enjoyment. Now the community can reciprocate and attend the Sept. 6 “Jaws” showing.

For many years, during every yuletide season, The Moviehouse has offered free screenings of holiday classics for families to enjoy, followed by complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides through the village. What an idyllic Christmastime memory to share with one’s children or friends, especially while Main Street looks its best, bedazzled by thousands of glittering holiday lights and decorations. Those who were lucky might even have caught some carolers in one of the parks singing together. The Moviehouse helped sponsor those festivities.

The Moviehouse also offers the FilmWorks Forum, which was founded in 1997. It’s a nonprofit community service program that presents independent and documentary films, followed by a discussion often led by community leaders, filmmakers, producers, screenwriters or actors “who share the experience of making the film and encourage active discourse on the topics presented,” according to The Moviehouse website. The forums are always interesting and informative, often insightful, and the free program provides an opportunity for area residents to learn, grow and gain new perspectives.

Then there’s The Moviehouse’s support of the local arts community, which it does in so many ways, not the least of which is through its very own gallery, The Moviehouse Studio Gallery, which is quite excellent.

Through the years, The Moviehouse has been there for the village of Millerton. Even when the Sadlons first came to town, they renovated the old 1905 Grange Hall that had fallen into disrepair, and, well, become a theater of X-rated films that did little to uplift the community. 

The Sadlons changed all that. They renovated the building, invested in their business, and spent the next four decades building up the Main Street commercial district into something that people want to visit and support. Millerton’s renaissance is due, in large measure, to their vision, their devotion, their dedication, their investment and their sense of community. It’s great to see others in the community now return the favor.  

One last point worth noting: Throughout their many years operating The Moviehouse, the Sadlons have consistently employed many local residents, and supported many local causes; they’ve stepped forward to volunteer time and again throughout the years and have been stalwart supporters of the community. That means something to the people who live and work here. 

To learn more about The Moviehouse, any of its programming or the Sept. 6 fundraiser, go to www.themoviehouse.net or call 518-789-0022 (though there will likely be no answer during the COVID-19 closure).

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