Egyptian Theatre renovations nearly complete


Northern Star Staff

Empty Egyptian Theatre

By Andrea Azzo

After a summer of renovations, the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., will host an open house featuring its new seats and sound system.

The event will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight and is free and open to the public.

Alex Nerad, executive director for the Egyptian Theatre, said the renovations cost about $750,000. Over $200,000 of that money was contributed by Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre (PET), a non-profit organization. A grant given to the DeKalb paid the remaining renovation balance, Nerad said.

Nerad said the last time the theater was completely renovated was in 1983, meaning most of the fixtures were over 30 years old.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said he first visited the theater as a child at the age of nine or 10.

“It’s an amazing place to walk into,” Povlsen said. “It’s kind of overwhelming when you see the beauty of it.”

The theater opened on Dec. 10, 1929. It showed silent films and had various theatrical performances. Since then, however, the building was subject to water damage and wear and tear over the years, Nerad said.

Nerad said summer was the perfect time of year to make the renovations because the theater is typically closed. One aspect of the renovations is the brand new, state-of-the-art sound system.

“It’s like night and day when you compare the [sound systems],” Nerad said. “The one we previously had was on its last legs.”

The new sound system is able to handle bigger shows and was recently used in the Middlewest Music & Arts Festival.

The old theater seats were sold off to the community in June, Nerad said. They sold for about $25 a piece. Seven hundred seats were sold, giving the theatre $17,000 that will be used for future renovations.

Nerad said that the theater is in the process of installing air conditioning next summer. They also want to replace old carpeting, bathrooms and concessions.

Freshman nursing major Dajanae Lyttle said she may visit the theater for the first time.

“I would actually want to see it,” Lyttle said. “It would be a new experience.”

The Egyptian Theatre hosts over 125 events each year during its season, which typically runs from September to June, Nerad said. It is home to over 25 community organizations and attracts over 30,000 people each year.