The reopening of the Apollo Theatre on October 2 was a wonderful day for the entire community. Although our movie house had only been closed for three months to allow for some much-needed renovations, Oberlin didn’t feel right until the marquee lights were shining again.
I am so grateful that local citizens, students, alumni, staffers, and friends of Oberlin from across the country pulled together to help the college meet the challenge of acquiring the Apollo during such difficult economic times. That the college was able to so quickly purchase, renovate, and reopen the theater speaks to how deeply the greater Oberlin community loves the Apollo. Allow me to extend many, many thanks to everyone who helped preserve the theater for generations to come.
For our college, our town, and northeast Ohio, the Apollo is more than just one of America’s last single-screen movie theaters. It is a landmark, a loadstone, and a magical place where countless dramas, dreams, memories, and romances have been born, onscreen and off. How many first dates the Apollo has hosted since it opened with the three-reel Thor, Lord of the Jungle in 1914? How many children saw their first motion picture there? The Apollo is also one of the few public places in Oberlin where the paths of men, women, and children from every walk of life converge.
As you can see in this issue of OAM, Oberlin’s Hollywood connections have been long-standing, and they were very much in evidence at the Apollo’s reopening gala, which was great fun. Legendary television director James Burrows ’62 and his wife, Debbie, and actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, who also star as parents of history major Jacob DeVito ’10, provided generous support for the Apollo project. We were honored that they made the trip to help us celebrate.
Looking to the Apollo’s future, we hope to add a screening room and an educational media center that can be used by our cinema studies program and by the wider Oberlin community. We are also seeking to upgrade the building’s heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and safety systems. For more information about what you can do to help the Apollo, please go to http://new.oberlin.edu/apollo/friends.dot.
During the celebration there were so many great moments. One of my favorites was Jim Burrows telling the audience at the ribbon-cutting ceremony how terrified he had been watching Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho, in 1961, at the Apollo. "I decided right then that if I got out of this theater alive I would give major K (meaning thousands) to Oberlin," he said. Thanks again, Jim. And thanks to all of you who are helping us build a bright future for the Apollo and Oberlin.