DEER LODGE — The Rialto Theater in Deer Lodge is marking its 100 year anniversary by throwing a gala complete with costumes, champagne, and a performance of the first show ever staged at the theater.
"The theater opened March 2 of 1921 with the production of 'Robin Hood,' a touring national production and we thought it would be fun for the 100th birthday to bring back Robin Hood, and we engaged the Cutler Brothers Theater to put it on the stage and, you know, we’ll have it the three nights," said Rialto Board president Steve Owens.
Owens said the gala will be complete with prizes and commemorative items being sold during the event.
"There’s a costume contest for best 20s costume and a costume contest for best dressed or most dressed up. There’ll be raffles and drawings and photographic exhibits and the DVD of a time-lapse photography of the restoration," said Owens.
The celebration could not have happened without the dedication of the community that helped rebuild it.
On Nov. 4, 2006, a massive fire gutted the Rialto as flames blazed 50-to-60 into the sky. The theater burned for three days.
The fire rattled the community and destroyed a historic part of downtown Deer Lodge. As rebuilding efforts were announced and the story gained nationwide attention, donations poured in from across the country.
"After the fire of 2006, it took us five-and-a-half years to rebuild and $3.6 million, but we’re glad we’re open and we have a little thing that shows some of that rebuilding process," Owens said.
Just like the 1920s, the centennial will mark a new era for the Rialto Theater.
"It’s been a labor of love for lots of us and we have new people all the time that are willing to help. It’s been good," Owens said.
The Rialto will present "Robin Hood" March 5-7. For more information, click here.