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CALUMET, MI – Built and opened in the year 1900, the Calumet Theatre has seen a lot of history.
“Its history is just magnificent,” says Laura Miller, executive director of the Calumet Theatre. “When you think about John Philip Sousa’s band being here back in 1900 and people like Lillian Russell and Sarah Bernhardt and all of these great stars that started here, this was one of the most magnificent theaters east of the Mississippi when it opened. It had electric lights and running water in the day and it’s been magnificent ever since.”
Managing and maintaining a historic facility such as the Calumet Theatre is not easy.
“It’s a real challenge to come up with fundraising ideas, great shows for people to see and then also for us to have membership,” said Miller. “We have about 500 members. More members would help us a lot. That’s actually our bread and butter.”
The Calumet Theatre sees anywhere between 60 to 70 productions a year from high school productions to nationally known concerts. As the oldest performing arts venue in the U.P., it can seat 700 people between the main floor auditorium and the balcony.
“It’s acoustically designed,” says Arthur Limback, vice president of the Board of Directors for the Calumet Theatre. “We had a group come in here that did a fundraiser for us- no amplification, no nothing and it was great. If you’re standing on stage and the way you and I are talking with someone up in the balcony, they’ll hear every word you say if it’s quiet in here.”
“We are very fortunate that this theater was not torn apart and redone during different times when the economy was poor,” said Miller. “A lot of theaters were turned into movie houses and were totally revamped inside. This one was never like that, it looks just like it did when you walked in back in 1900.”
If you are interested in becoming a member at the Calumet Theater, you can find more information by visiting their website.