Palace Theater to open in May

The Historic Palace Theatere is currently undergoing renovations while COVID-19 forces the closure. By moving the construction up, the Palace's plans to open in May won't be interrupted by work in the fall. Chris Parada (pictured in photo) said more will be known as the opening date gets closer. (Ben Joe/Staff)

You win some and you lose some.

The Historic Palace Theatre has been going through some ups-and-downs this pandemic season, but the non-profit group dedicated to keeping the jewel of the local entertainment scene alive is taking lemons and making lemonade.

“Obviously COVID-19 is keeping us in the dark a little bit,” said Chris Parada, executive director of Historic Palace Theatre Inc. “In the fall we were allowed to open with movies and we were filming some stuff, and then everything happened with the holidays and there was definitely a spike in Western New York where the numbers got a little out of hand.”

Knowing that they couldn’t show movies – the infection rate to do so being a 2% or less infection rate in the region – the decision was made to close down and work on renovations.

“Our thought was, since we were kind of forced to be closed right now, why don’t we try to do the renovations now, so that when we can open up in the spring, we don’t have to close again a few months later to do more renovations?” he said. “We switched gears for a little bit, closed our doors, and planned to open up May 1.”

Parada said that after opening, a variety of options will become more apparent and these included dance recitals, doing some kind of life performance and – of course – movies.

“By that point the infection rate should be down. Comfortable enough so we can see, as we get to the May 1 opening day, what we can do,” he said. “Whatever we feel we can provide to the community, we’re going to do that.”

Currently renovations are being done on the interior including new seats, an expanded orchestra pit, paint and plaster, new flooring and carpeting.

“The orchestra pit, that was a big project,” Parada said. “We’re going to be expanding it, going deeper, going wider, making that bigger. There’s going to be small lift in the middle.”

“The inside of the theater right now looks like a war zone. It’s pretty cool looking, but it’s major, major construction right now, but all that will be done and ready to go.”

Parada said that while the year was horrible, the people were not. He said that while it might be expected to see donations go down, that hasn’t been the case for the Palace Theater.

“We’ve had a very strong, loyal community support, whether it’s season tickets or banner sponsorship or our annual campaign,” he said. “All that stuff has still been very well received. Obviously these renovations are very expensive and we’ve been closed since March, almost a year with no income coming in.”

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