Bashaw’s Majestic Theatre is almost certainly one of a kind, and with its distinctive ‘boomtown theatre’ architecture, it’s thought that this grand old entertainment centre is the last like it in Western Canada.
The theatre was set for the wrecker’s ball in the 1990s, but an ambitious restoration project has remade it so its exterior is virtually indistinguishable from photos taken in the 1930s.
Vaudeville-style artists were initially hosted at the clapboard theatre, as well as magic lantern shows that projected moving images from slides. (Magic lanterns were a precursor to film projectors.)
Soon it was screening silent movies and early talkies for enraptured audiences. The first known film to run there was More Deadly Than the Male (1919), starring Ethel Clayton, accompanied by a Mack Sennett comedy. The next week, The Last of the Mohicans was shown.
Although the building, which now has a historic designation, was converted to a more “modern” movie theatre in the 1940s and renamed the Dixy, it became a Catholic church at some point. The local joke is that this didn’t work out too well because it was too close to the bar.
Since the building’s restoration was completed in 2004, the Majestic Theatre has become home to a local theatre group, various plays, dinner theatre performances, dances and Christmas pageants.
(NOTE: Operations at the Majestic Theatre may be affected by Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis. Check this website as you plan your future trip.)
— With files from the Red Deer Advocate
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