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Stories of the Kent Theatre


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The first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre was 'The Sound of Music' at Kent Theatre. I was around 5 or so, remember being in awe of the enormity of the screen, and what a huge treat it was to buy popcorn and eat it while watching the movie. I haven't been inside the theatre since I was in elementary school, but plan on bringing my kids to one of the September shows...it will be a treat for them as well as me!

Rex Pennington

"Oh, my goodness... such special memories. I graduated CSHS in the Late '50's.

Morris & Ruth Frank were very good friends of my parents (bridge club friends). Having grown up on Main Street, Dorthy (Edison Bishop) and I went to the movies three times a week. Sunday-Monday was 1 show, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday was another movie, and of course Friday-Saturday were the double feature, with 1 usually a cowboy (western)!

"I would take my daughter, Terri Michelle, when she was a baby as they had the cry room upstairs..."

Way way back Slim Riggle played the organ to keep us entertained until the movie started. Strange thing to remember, but I liked to watch the dust float around in the beam of light coming from the projection room. I remember cheering when the movie came back on after the film broke. Every weekend the thing to do was go to the Kent theater (didn't matter if it was a good movie)and then hang out at the pizza place. Oh, and who can forget Mark Foley and Greg Blanchard selling us popcorn at the concession stand? Great memories and I'm so happy to see the theater returned to good use.

Karla (Newland) Roebuck

I remember going to the Kent when I was very small with my brother. For 25 cents, we watched several cartoons, a lot of news reels, a movie, a live show on the stage, and then another movie. I dont know how long were there but it must have been for hours. Oh and we got popcorn with the quarter also. Our parents would drop us off, and pick up us later, could not do that now with kids around 6-7 years old. I always had a great time there.

I'm relatively new to the Kent. Other than a vague memory of old theatre as a kid driving by in the 1970's on the way "Up North", before US-131 was finished, I didn't have anything to do with the Kent Theatre until 2006 when my wife and daughters were in the musical, "The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree". I really fell in love with the old place, with the touches of Art Deco and the respectful modernization/restoration.

Since then, I've kept getting drawn in, more and more, until I ended up on the Board of Directors in 2008.

Len and Dan's hard work, along with all of the other many volunteers and the support of many local businesses, have continued to bring things along. In the last year alone, we've seen a new stage curtain, the old clock repaired, a disco ball!?!?, and significant major rennovations on the tech facilities, office, and new bathrooms (almost done!). Not to mention the hours of regular maintenance the "old girl" requires.

Thanks to everyone that has had a part in keeping the Kent alive in Cedar Springs. Keep up the good work.

Steve Johnson

My first memories of Kent Theater go back 60 years to 1948. Although there was not much money in our family, we managed to "go to the movies" about 4 times each year. Dad, home after serving in the Pacific Navy of WWII, would drive the 5 of us to Cedar Springs. We would climb the stairway to the balcony of Kent Theater, where we occupied the "cry room" with a few other families who also had small children and babies. I marvel at the patience of Dad and Mom, who certainly had to work hard to follow the story-lines, as they tried to keep their 3 small children interested in the movie. I can remember the groans of the audience when the film would occasionally break during the showing...and the applause when the reel continued after a quick repair. We children loved the opportunity to clap our hands...a broken film was sometimes the highlight of the evening for the little ones.

A few years later, we would watch the newsreels of the Korean Conflict on the big screen at the Kent. With television in its infancy, and no live coverage from Korea, the Kent provided us with a picture of what our uncles and cousins were living. Our eyes would scan the screen in hopes of a glimpse of loved ones serving our nation in Korea.

Now that the Kent is open for special events, it certainly gives us a sense of history when we attend. We would love to see the facility restored more completely and open more often. I look forward to even having a class reunion there.

Royce Newman

There are so many special memories that I don't know where to start.

First, I remember all of my friends having their birthday parties there. We would all go to the movies and have popcorn instead of cake. We all would meet there on the weekends and have so much fun sometimes so much that we would get asked to leave!

As we got older we would go there with our boyfriends, but it was much harder to watch the movies! Enough said.

I remember watching the Beatles movie there with all the girls screaming. Later on I attended many hometown plays that were put on by the locals. It was always so much fun to watch all the town people playing different roles.

I hope the Kent Theatre will always be a part of Cedar Springs because it will always be a part of my heart and my memories.

Sincerely, Robin Oie

As a child I can remember going to the movies on Saturday afternoons for 10 cents and taking along a friend for another penny. Popcorn was one cent a bag (this sure dates me). We could watch five hours of Westerns, Cartoons and News Reels for a dime. I also spent many lovely evenings with dates watching the current movies.

With the remodeling that has taken place so far and still needs to continue, I look forward to not only watching movies in the future when I am in the area, but also watching play productions by the local thespians.

Robert G. Branyan II