Opened early last century, The Regent has alternately excelled and suffered through changes in the entertainment industry and the whims of its audiences – presenting both film and live shows through the years.
Situated on Main Street in picturesque Picton, Ontario, the historic Regent Theatre is the centre for the arts in Prince Edward County, providing the community with a unique venue for live theatre and music. First run movies, art films presented by Cinefest, and an international satellite feed fine arts program (opera, dance, theatre) round out the offerings of The Regent, making it a diverse venue that truly reflects its community.
The Regent is a rare example of a still intact Edwardian opera house, it began in 1918 using the 80-year old foundation of a former warehouse. Designed by Toronto architects Warrington and Page for George Cook, after extensive reconstruction The Regent Theatre re-opened its doors in February, 1922 with the Canadian war comedy live play “Mademoiselle from Armentieres”.
The Regent’s generous stage is one of the largest in Eastern Ontario. Above the stage is a 18.7 metre (62 foot) fly tower. Original dressing rooms below the stage include blackboards lining the walls where, in a former era, performers wrote their show’s running order.
In 1994, The Regent Theatre Foundation, a community based, not-for-profit organization, bought the theatre from the Cook family. Since that time, the Foundation Board and volunteers have toiled to restore the theatre as close to its original state as possible. In 1998 the stage was opened up, the fly tower was re-rigged and made operational and the theatre’s roof was replaced. Later installations and upgrades included new seating for 351, new fire doors, electronic alarm system, and electrical service. The building was brought into compliance with fire and safety regulations and received a designation as an historic building. Significant enhancements over the years have added features such as the lighted marquee, the magnificent Austrian crystal chandeliers that grace the lobby and air conditioning.
In January, 2011, the theatre underwent a major renovation, expanding the capacity to 446 seats. The washrooms and concessions were completely redone and a whole new 2nd floor loft space was created. Newer milestones include the 2011 acquisition of a new Christie Digital Projector and a 2013 Parrot Foundation grant to restore the façade to its 1920’s glory.
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