Tonight I went with a group in the CARE bus to Conroe to the historic Crighton Theatre (1934) to see Stage Right’s presentation of Willy Wonka. Since I’m never around children, I’m not used to their speech, so it often was difficult for me to understand the little actors. They were cute, though.
In 1934 Conroe Mayor Harry M. Crighton hired architect Blum E. Hester to build a movie palace similar to the great Majestic Theatre in Houston using native stone like that of the capitol in Austin. Opening night was November 26, 1935, in the acoustically-perfect Crighton Theatre. The Crighton flourished for many years but, as the drive-in theaters and modern wide-screen theaters became popular, the audiences grew smaller. The Crighton Theatre was finally closed in the mid-sixties.
In 1976, Frank and Hallie Crighton Guthrie, the owners of the Crighton Theatre, donated it to Montgomery County. Their only stipulations were that the Crighton name be maintained, that the theatre be primarily used for the performing arts and that the Little Theatre of Conroe be the resident theater group. The Montgomery County Foundation for the Performing Arts was formed to accept the gift on behalf of the residents of Montgomery County.
The theater was in such a bad state of disrepair that $500,000 was needed to restore it. Theater designer David Nibbin of Dallas was hired as the technical contractor. The entire community came together to clean out all the debris and to raise the needed funds. All the work performed was done at cost or donated. The theater reopened on January 25, 1979. It is a lovely venue, to be sure.
We arrived home around 11:30, but I wasn’t overly tired.