The Princess Reclaimed

The historic Princess Theater at 101 W. Monroe Street in Mt. Ayr, Iowa reopened on Aug. 21 after spending years as a bar and storage space for plumbing supplies. Opening night featured old time events and the live production of Farmer’s Song-The Musical, written by Angie Hynek and her son Joe Hyneck. Set during the farm crisis of the 1980s, the musical revolves around a farm family living in small town Ellston, Iowa who come up with a creative way to make a living off their land.

The theater is a historic landmark for the community and having it open again “preserves the whole town square atmosphere,” said Angie Hynek, community member and co-writer of the grand opening play that will be staged for the event.

Three years ago, the theatre underwent extensive renovation that touched just about everything from top to bottom. With help from the Dekko Foundation and community support, about $370,000 was raised for the project, which was headed by the Princess Theater Troupe.

“We got innovative and even added a movie viewing screen that can be moved out of the way for live productions,” said Pam Poore, Moonlighters Theatre Group president and board member for the Princess Theater Troupe. The theatre is now able to host both movies and plays.

Princess Theatre Grand Opening Night

Princess Theatre Grand Opening Night

Our Hometown Theater

Our Hometown Theater Help us to reach the goal of a $300,000 endowment by March 2010 by making a donation to the Princess Theater Endowment, established at South Central Iowa Community Foundation (SCICF).

Every dollar you give will be matched with $2 from the DEKKO Foundation.

Send your tax deductible gift to:

Princess Theater
P.O. Box 468
400 East Monroe Street
Mount Ayr IA 50854

Make your check payable to: SCICF: Princess Endowment

For tax purposes, a receipt will be sent to you from SCICF (South Central Iowa Community Foundation).
For more information, call Michell Ricker at 641-464-2264 or Martha Landphair at 641-464-2808

Grand Opening

We are proud to announce the Grand Opening of Princess Theatre!

In 2005, the Princess Theater Troupe was formed to renovate and reopen the Princess Theater building donated by Philanthropist Paul Ramsey. The Princess Theater’s Grand Opening — August 21 – 24, 2008 — is upon us.

Our historic Princess theater is now equipped for both film and live stage productions. It is the home of the Moonlighters Theater Troupe and the Ringgold Singers.

Farmer Song Sold Out

Family grows crop of songs for re-opening **Sorry all performances have been SOLD OUT

The Hynek family’s musical about a love story in the midst of the 1980s Farm Crisis has been performed at Iowa State University in Ames, the State Fair in Des Moines and an international theater festival in New York City. But when the Ellston-based family of farmer-musicians present the show this weekend in nearby Mount Ayr, they might face their toughest crowd yet.

Many in the audience will remember the economic troubles firsthand, and they’ll know whether small details ring true — if Bill Hynek, for example, pretends to steer a tractor in a convincing way or if the bales onstage are really straw when the cast sings about hay.

“That won’t work. They’ll know it’s not hay,” said Bill Hynek’s wife, Angie, who wrote the script with their 28-year-old son, Joe.
Joe Hynek wrote the first drafts of the musical several years ago and asked the rest of the family to work out some of the kinks. The group, which performs under the name Pumptown, often recorded themselves during road trips.

“It was a great way to get through Nebraska,” said Amanda Hynek, 22.

It was also a good way to test out new boyfriends, her father said. None passed.

The family eventually stitched the songs and stories together into a show and first presented it in 2006. Tonight is the first chance for neighbors to see it back home at the Princess Theater.

“It’s kind of ironic,” Angie Hynek said. “The story came from the 1980s when the theater closed. It took us 25 years to write because it was so painful. … We didn’t know if anybody would want to come and hear a rehash of the Farm Crisis, but old guys have come up to us after the show — sometimes with tears in their eyes — and they say, ‘Wow, you really got it. You really understand what it was like.’ ”

7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday, plus 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Princess Theater, 101 W. Monroe St., Mount Ayr.
TICKETS: $10 for adults, $5 for kids;, (641) 464-2146.

Source: Des Moines Register

Revived theater gets a second act

Paul Ramsey was only a kid when he saw his first Shirley Temple movies in the old Princess Theater.

That was before he moved out to California, met the actress in person and built a small fortune as a real estate developer in Hollywood.

But memories pulled him back. When the 85-year-old old Iowa native returned to his home state a few years ago, the theater was an empty shell. Its last movie had long since flickered out, and its years as a plumbing supply store and a bar had taken a toll.

“I only paid $35,000 for this old thing,” he said with a nod toward the two-story building, which he donated to the Princess Theater Troupe in 2003. “I can’t believe what they’ve done with it. I never dreamed they’d take the ball and run with it like this.”

But run they did. A small army of volunteers raised more than $350,000 and pitched in to spiff up the building inside and out.They’ve hustled for five years, and tonight when the red curtain rises for the locally written musical “Farmer Song,” the Princess will join a growing number of renovated old theaters that are revitalizing towns across the state. Click here to read the full story.

Source: Des Moines Register