The Historic Crystal Theatre
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History of the Crystal Theatre
Crystal Theatre was originally built as a vaudeville/movie theatre in 1927. It was first called the EJAY after its owner E.J. Bregger, a local man with a love of the arts. In an auditorium seating over 500, area residents enjoyed traveling vaudeville acts and silent films with live theatre organ accompaniment.
Late in the 40’s, Bregger sold the theatre to the Delft movie chain, which, in turn, sold it to Aldo Zaupa. The Aldo Theatre showed movies through the 1970’s until it closed in the early 1980’s.
In 1989, a group of visionary volunteers with an appreciation for both history and the performing arts accepted the challenge of restoring the theatre to its original grandeur. During the process, a vintage Möller pipe organ was purchased and installed to replace the original organ which had been sold earlier.The restored Crystal Theatre opened its doors fittingly in the spring of 1991 with a Forest Park drama production of Our Town. Today, Crystal Theatre hosts a wide variety of entertainment.
Artists often marvel at the purity of the acoustics, which many modern theaters cannot match. The current vision of the nine-member board of directors is to engage the extended community in the performing arts, making Crystal Theatre the first choice venue.
The Möller Theatre Organ
Crystal Theatre PAC has the distinction of possessing the largest theatre pipe organ in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The organ, consisting of 3 manuals (keyboards) and 21 ranks, (sets of pipes) was originally built in 1927 by the M.P. Möller Company of Hagerstown, Maryland.
There are more than 1,600 pipes, installed in the on-stage chambers, ranging in size from half an inch to over 16 feet in length. In addition, there is a battery of actual tuned percussion, drums, traps and sound effects installed in two chambers, located on either side of the proscenium.
The Steinway Model ‘D’
Crystal Theatre’s renowned Steinway model ‘D’, concert grand piano was gifted to the theatre by famed songwriter, pianist and music producer, Patrick Leonard, in 2012. Over the years, many iconic artists (such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bob Milne and Dick Kroeckel) have rhapsodized this very special instrument with their praises and accolades.Considered the flagship of the Steinway & Sons line, the nine foot Model ‘D’ is the first choice of most concert pianists.
It represents about five percent of all Steinway grand pianos produced. Featuring a roaring, robust bass and an imense beautiful overall tone, this instrament stretches to farthest areas of any concert hall. Accomplished musicians love its perfect size and spine-tingling timbre. The action is incredibly responsive and able to provide the highest level of artistic expression.
As of 2010, Steinway had built approximately 600,000 pianos; about 25,000 are Models ‘D’. Crystal Theatre’s Steinway is one of only a few pianos, hand-picked by the company to be elevated to the classification of “Artist Series”. It is truly one of the finest pianos in the US and we are so fortunate that it graces our stage!
Theatre Board and Staff
Crystal Theatre Board
Wilma Kallies, President
Michelle Graves, Vice President
Ruth Warmanen, Secretary
Heidi Curtis, Treasurer
Nicole Lenhart, Volunteer Coordinator
Maria Peterson, City Liaison
Ex-officio Board Members
Angie Dohl, Manager
Paul Sundquist, Stage Manager
Gloria Fredrickson, Costume Closet Manager