News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 25, 2012

Marquee events bring life to historic Indiana Theatre

Hoosier-made movie, concert scheduled

TERRE HAUTE — A movie inspired by vintage-cinema will, fittingly, serve as the opening act in a reawakening of a classic venue, the Indiana Theatre.

Opened on Jan. 28, 1922, the structure reached its 90th birthday quietly, with limited activity during 2012.

“We’ve not been closed up. It’s just been limited activity,” said Roger Aleshire, co-owner of the theater with his wife, Kathy. “The economy’s just been slow, so we’ve been real selective about what we’re going to do.

“We’re starting to see a little bit of a pickup,” he added.

Its 54-foot screen — the second largest in the state — will light up again this weekend with showings of “Gila.” The movie, filmed in Franklin, Ind., is based loosely on “Giant Gila Monster, a 1959 flick that became a cult favorite among sci-fi fans. In a nod toward the original, “Gila” features, according to its billing, “a ferocious, rampaging giant gila monster, classic hot rods, vintage ’50s rock ’n’ roll music, cute coeds, drag racing, and an all-star cast who rally to defend their small town.”

The showings of "Gila" through Sunday follow its earlier screenings at other venues in the state, including theaters in Franklin and Columbus.

Then, on Oct. 13, psychedelic-rock music returns to the Indiana. Echoes of Pompeii, a Chicago-based Pink Floyd tribute band, will perform songs by the legendary British group, accompanied by a laser light show. Echoes of Pompeii played at the Indiana on March 24, and also a year earlier. “That was pretty well received. The house wasn’t full, but the people enjoyed the show,” Aleshire said.

He hopes to bring another musical act later this fall. Those, with tickets in the $20 to $25 range, work well in the 1,600-seat theater, Aleshire said. (Tickets for Echoes of Pompeii cost $25.)

“We’re looking to do more of those kinds of shows this fall, and again in spring,” he said.

Autumn and spring are the best seasons to offer entertainment there, Aleshire explained. “There’s too many things to compete with in the summer time,” he said, and winter theater traffic is slower.

Next month, the Aleshires will mark their ninth year as owners of the ornate theater.

“The entire industry has gone through a lot of changes since then,” Roger Aleshire said.

Using Spanish baroque style, famed 20th-century theater architect John Eberson designed the local facility. His 1920s creations once dotted the nation, but the Indiana was one of only 18 known to still be in operation as of 2006.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

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