Brent Gill, Staff Writer
The Lucas Theatre celebrated its 95th birthday Friday afternoon with a block party and a free showing of “Gone With The Wind.” When the theatre reopened in 2000, “Gone With The Wind” was the first showing and every seat was filled.
The Lucas has been reopened for 16 years since it was renovated. Numerous volunteers and lovers of the theatre were available to provide a bit of history and fun facts about The Lucas.
Leslie Seidman and her husband have been volunteering at The Lucas and various other historical sites for several years.
“They almost tore it down several times in the 70’s and 80’s,” Leslie said. “It was the first building in Savannah to have air conditioning and all of Savannah’s lawyers would sit on the back row during their lunch to get cooled off.”
The first movie shown at the Lucas was the silent film “Camille,” which required that someone play the organ throughout the film. Leslie says the organ doesn’t work but that it’s in storage backstage.
The theatre itself was not used at all for many years. It briefly became the Lucas Cafe and Comedy Club. The theatre opened in 2000 as a non-profit entity but not without significant renovations.
Donations by Clint Eastwood and Kevin Spacey helped make the renovations possible. The Lucas can hold 1,200 people and it took 44,000 sheets of gold leaf to gild all of the molding in the theatre.
Three of Savannah’s newly-regulated food trucks were part of the celebration: Molly McPherson’s, Dark Shark Taco and Psycho Circus. Providing music for the event was “Waits and Co.,” headed by lead singer John Waits.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of anything the theatre does. The Lucas is a unique and special place,” Waits said. Waits brought in his childhood friend, Drew de Man, of “Pretend Sweethearts” for the Lucas event.
The Lucas Theatre’s social media and event coordinator, Lauren Schwan, helped organize the party. Schwan is a native to Savannah and has been going to the theatre with her mother as long as she can remember.
“I really love the sense of community the Lucas provides. You get to meet new people and you always see old friends. This has been a long time dream of our managing director, getting the theatre community involved. I really wanted to be a part of this.”
The Lucas staff has some important upcoming events, including a midnight showing of “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil” as a memorial to recently-deceased Lady Chablis who died Oct. 8. A performance by three-time Grammy Award winner Lalah Hathaway will be held Sept. 29. Find out more at lucastheatre.com.