Strasburg Theater to reopen this month with original design restored

By Ryan Cornell

A theater so nice, he bought it twice: it’s the quick rhyme behind Richard Perryman’s ownership of the Strasburg Home Theater.

The first time, Perryman purchased the theater with RTR Holding Corp. partner Tina Embree for a little more than $200,000 in August. They also bought an additional two properties, one of which is home to Cristina’s Cafe.

“They wanted to shake things up and move her out of town,” Perryman said about his partners. “I would’ve had a big target painted on my back.”

And so the second time, he decided to buy his partners and the company out and terminate the deal with the other two properties.

At 27 years old, Perryman said he’s often confused with being a decade older; he’s what you might describe as an old soul.

An ambitious undertaking, Perryman wants to restore the lobby of the Strasburg Home Theater to its original 1940s design. He’s started by ripping out the kitchen installed in the lobby by the previous owners and replacing it with the theater’s original candy stand, hanging chandelier and settee. In a way, he wants the theater to act as a sort of time machine, transporting patrons back to the last time they watched Lauren Bacall or Spencer Tracy on the big screen.

“The lobby will be pretty much what it was like when some of our older citizens remember when they were kids,” said Perryman.

It’s like a scene lifted straight from the script of “The Majestic.” In the film, Jim Carrey’s character collaborates with the town to fix an old movie house and restores it to its former glory. It’s a solid reflection of Strasburg’s embrace of the Home Theater and Perryman’s dedication. Ironically, he’s never seen the film.

Perryman said one of his main goals is to make the theater primarily a movie hall. And he’s not talking about “Transformers.” Rather, he plans to screen classic films such as “Casablanca,” “Gone with the Wind” and a handful of John Wayne westerns. He wants to bring back the tradition of showing “White Christmas” during the holidays, too.

“So far, there aren’t any movies planned that are after 1980,” Perryman said. “If you tell me the movie you saw here, I’ll get the rights to show it here.”

He’s confident he can fill all 404 seats in the theater. Part of that confidence comes from cheap ticket prices. He’s all but guaranteed 25-cent screenings of old classics and said he doesn’t think tickets will ever top $7. But cheap ticket prices doesn’t mean cheap equipment. On Wednesday, Perryman became partners with Tim Kirk, an award-winning sound and lighting technician who has outfitted the technical parts of the theater.

“Being from Northern Virginia, it takes every bit of $40 or $50 to go out on a date,” Perryman said. “You can come to Strasburg and do it for less than $15.”

The Home Theater’s first event scheduled is a masquerade fundraiser on June 28. The fundraiser will be catered from Hi-Neighbor Restaurant, featuring wine from Molon Lave Vineyards and Perryman performing on the tenor saxophone. All of the proceeds from the fundraiser will go into rehabilitating the theater. Upcoming events also include a musical revue by the StageCoach Theatre Co. and a performance by country singer Danni Leigh.

Perryman said the theater will be hiring local employees soon.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com