WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Who doesn’t love going to a movie, or concert or play? For some kids, the fun on Tuesday wasn’t limited to the flick they saw. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller joined kids at an iconic venue for a tour that proved to be just as entertaining.
All of the entertainment wasn’t limited to the big screen for four dozen students from McGlynn Learning Center in Wilkes-Barre. Before settling into their seats, they went on a tour of the F.M Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Anne Rodella, the Kirby Center’s Director of Sales and Marketing said, “The box office was actually located outside where you come in.”
Students learned about the building that opened in 1938 as the Comerford Theater before becoming the Paramount Theatre in 1949 and finally the Kirby Center in 1986. “We put all of this new wallpaper up,” This walking history lesson pointed out renovations that covered the pink walls and replaced the red carpeting.
“So this is the chandelier lobby,” said Ms. Rodella as students strolled through one of the building’s four lobbies before making their way to the stage. But the tour didn’t end there. Talk about all-access. The kids even get to go where only artists are allowed the dressing rooms. But 80 years ago when the Kirby was just a movie theater, the dressing rooms served a different purpose. “This is where they actually created their advertisements. They made the posters. They made the poster boards,” said Ms. Rodella.
9-year-old Caleb Rivera who took the tour said, “The dressing room is, like, cool because, like, the people that are here, like, they’re famous.” If the dressing rooms are cool, a tunnel that allows performers to go undetected from backstage to the lower lobby is even cooler. Fellow McGlynn Learning Center student Natalyah Scott said, “It’s really cool because, like, other people they haven’t like been there and everything. They probably don’t know that it’s like there or anything.”
It’s only part of what the tour guide hopes kids remember about the Kirby. “I hope they take away an understanding of what a historic gem the Kirby Center is, that our community has this beautiful building and that it’s well-cared for,” said Ms. Rodella.
The Kirby Center goes full circle this August when it presents “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” — the first movie ever to play at the venue when it opened its doors in 1938.