Egyptian Theatre renovations begin

By Parker Otto, Columnist

Staff members of the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N Second Street, broke ground Wednesday for new renovations which will, over the summer, add several updates to the infrastructure of the nearly 90 year old theater.

These will include baby changing stations, expanded restrooms, a larger concession stand which will contain a new popcorn machine and serving stations, extra storage and new carpeting, among others. The project should take up to seven months to complete according to the official website of the Egyptian Theatre.

For the first time, the Egyptian Theatre will have a liquor license which allows the staff to serve alcoholic beverages to those of legal age and, more importantly, air-conditioning. “Deterioration of the ornamental plasterwork and decorative painting is accelerating without climate control in the theater,” Egyptian Theatre executive director Alex Nerad said in a speech given before ground was broken. These new additions will be made to further accommodate the 40,000 people who attend events at the theater and allow the theater to host events year-round.

Other prominent speakers were Egyptian Theatre Board President Dan Schewe, who delivered opening remarks, and described the renovations as “a monumental, important event in this city” and DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Jerry Smith due to Smith being in Springfield. “Congratulations to all of you. You made this happen,” said Nicklas as he congratulated the citizens of DeKalb who were at the ceremony.

The Egyptian Theatre has been in the public eye for 90 years this December ever since its debut to a Depression-era DeKalb. Many films, musicians and performers have been shown on the stage and the theater has influenced many, including two time Academy Award nominated actor, and DeKalb native, Richard Jenkins.

In an October 30 interview with the Northern Star, Jenkins stated “You saw the world through the screen. As soon as I saw the movies, I wanted to be an actor.”

With 90 years of history, these renovations will allow the Egyptian Theatre to thrive for a long time and update the building to modern times while staying true to its roots.