Mar. 28, 2017

The Strand Theater

The Strand Theater

I was so excited to interview Foy Ford at the Strand Theater, home of the Swamp Fox Players. Foy has been the theater manager for eleven years. Thanks to Penny Thomas Barbour and Jamie Sanderson, I was able to sit down and talk to her about this historical building in Georgetown.

Historically speaking, Wilson B Arnholter built and introduced the theater as the Peerless to a packed house on June 24, 1914, and thereafter, closed the place down. When another theater in Georgetown, the Princess Theater, burned down in 1916, Wilson B. Arnholter reopened his building as the Princess Theatre. History shows the Abram Brothers named it once again as the Peerless in 1929. The building was later renamed the Strand Theater. In 1964, the theater reopened under new management and, unlike the movies and plays performed at this time; the theater only showed films as a cinema in the past.

Foy explained as she welcomed us inside, “When the theater reopened as the Strand Theater it just down the street from the Palace Theater which was still in operation at the time.”

“Where at down the street,” I asked Foy as we seated ourselves in one of the chairs several rows from the stage.

“The Palace Theater used to be where First Citizen’s Bank is at now,” she answered (The Palace Theater was built in 1936). Our building was first known as the Strand Theater when it reopened in October of 1941 on (710) Front Street.”

“How long have the Swamp Fox Players been here?”

“They’re an acting group that has been here since the 80’s. This is where they perform four shows a year. Each show runs for about three weeks,” Foy explained. “The actors often help build their sets and help with costumes. They generally work together in other areas besides just acting.”

The theater chairs have little tables that you may pull up and out to make a desk and, suffice to say, if I didn’t know I needed to go on a diet before going inside, I sure know it now. I slid the table back into place as I asked, “What do you show in-between the plays?”

My son spoke up, “Don’t you show movies here?”

Foy nodded her head in agreement. “Yes, we sure do. We show more of Art House Films than we do of pop culture films.”

They recently had The Legend of Bagger Vance on the marquee (which is the original marquee) and currently, Still Alice will be showing as the acting group prepares for their next performance of Bye, Bye Birdie.

As we sat in the theater and looked around, I decided to ask the all-important-question “Is the theater haunted?”

With a laugh, Foy answered, “Yes it is. We do have one ghost.”

“Tell me about the ghost,” I asked getting more excited.

“She likes to move things around a lot. The ghost used to hide a cane my daughter liked to use. Every day we’d come in and it would be some place different that it had no business being in. We’d find it all over the theater. Sometimes the ghost likes to play with the lights or the sounds and she’s even been known to get a little snippy.”

As I wrote, I glanced up and said, “You refer to the ghost as a she; have you seen her?”

“No, I haven’t seen her but it just feels like a she. Several people have mentioned they feel her,” she explained with another laugh. “There was an incident, I can’t remember what it was exactly but I remember when we came in one day, all of the screws from the light plates were removed and all laying on the table; the screws too. It was as if someone had unscrewed them with a screwdriver. I told the crew, I don’t know who did what to make her mad but all of you apologize to her.”

“Did they?”

With a nod she answers, “Yes they did. There was another incident where we were all meeting across the street after rehearsal. One of the actresses stayed behind to take off her makeup. She was here alone, by herself.

Apparently, while she was in the back taking off her makeup, she could hear the ghost upstairs dragging something across the floor above her. She quickly left the building and came across the street to tell us what happened. The actress said she would never be here alone again.”

While there talking to Foy, I wanted to do a short video of the Strand Theater for my YouTube channel, Cranky’s World (also found as Cranky Old Hag), she shared a bit of trivia knowledge with us. “The double masks at the top, above the marquee, are also original. They’ve never been replaced or removed.”

While looking up the Strand Theater on the internet, I searched for the pictures and one thing is for sure, Foy Ford is right. In every picture, not only is the marquee the same, but just above it, you can see the double masks, as well.

Thank you Foy for allowing me to come inside and talking to me about this beautifully magnificent place called, the Strand Theater.