December 12, 2019 2:50 p.m. UPDATE: BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The owners of Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre announced it will be staying open through the month of December. The Bickey family reached a tentative agreement to lease the building to the City of Beckley.
“My family and I are thrilled that this opportunity arose. I can’t thank Mayor Rob Rappold and all the members of the City Council enough for recognizing what an integral part of the downtown area the Theatre has become,” said President of Bickey Companies, Matthew Bickey.
Showings of “The Polar Express” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” are planned for later this month.
BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – It provided a sense of nostalgia to many people living in Beckley. But the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre has closed its doors recently. The news came on November 26, 2019 that it would shut down, effective immediately. For citizen Chris Gauthier, performing arts is important.
“If we’re talking people always coming down for things all the way from Shakespeare, all the way upwards through college with theatre arts, even in the high schools, so theatre just is really big in life,” he said.
Not only is it upsetting those wanting to sit back and watch some talent, but it’s affecting the talented performers themselves. The Beckley Art Center and Academy of Creative Arts are right across the street from the theatre and the artists performed there from time to time. Director of Education and Performing Arts Ryan Snuffer said it’s sad seeing good people, the owners of the playhouse, have to come to this decision.
“They continue to support the arts. We still have a relationship with them. They’ve done so much over the years, and we just want to see more people be involved and support some of the things they’ve done, as well as other artistic endeavors in this community,” Snuffer said.
People are listening, though. News has reached city administrators. Councilmen Tim Berry said he and others want to see if they can help.
“I’ve spoken with councilmen Sopher, and we’ve gone to the mayor and spoken to the mayor about it and I think all the council members are on board about trying to work something out to keep the playhouse open. As of right now, I know it’s in discussion stage, but I know we’re moving forward quickly on it because we understand how important the development of the playhouse is to the Uptown area,” Berry said.
You can visit their website at theraleighwv.com