RICK BROWN, Yard Light Media
KEARNEY – For Mark Treadway, leading the future of World Theater involves a sense of balance.
“We hope to bring different kinds of entertainment that Kearney wouldn’t normally get,” he said. “We had a live jazz show on Tuesdays. Spectators could enter and listen to the music. During the second half of the event, they allowed people to come and play with the band. Not something you would normally find in the area.
This event will resume in October after taking the summer.
“We try to mix things up,” Treadway said of the World Theater offerings. “We’ll try to have a kids movie, something newer that everyone would like, and then we’ll also have an artsy type movie, something that no other theater would show.”
Treadway currently holds the title of House Manager at World Theater. Her role is to book movies, schedule shows, and manage the day-to-day operations of the historic theater at 2318 Central Ave. at Downtown Kearney: The Bricks. He feels he is still learning the basics of the place.
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“I’ve only been doing it for about a month, so I always start a little slower,” he said. “I’m just finishing up the operations part. After that I plan to bring in different bands with live shows as this used to be an old vaudeville theater.
Treadway plans to seek advice from the theater’s two former managers, Bryce Jensen and Taylor Moore. He also plans to seek the advice of Kearney-born and Hollywood screenwriter Jon Bokenkamp, who launched a community fundraising campaign to renovate the theater which reopened in 2012.
The World Theater house can accommodate approximately 360 people, a size that fits in well with other performing arts spaces in Kearney.
“We recently renovated the balcony and 10 years ago new floor seating was installed,” Treadway said. “We now have the Sweets Shop. These are things that other sites don’t offer.
With the ability to show films and hold live events, the flexibility sets the World Theater apart from other venues in Kearney.
“Being able to do live shows as well as movies is a plus,” Treadway said. “For a very long time, the theater only showed films. They have redone the backstage with new dressing rooms.
The old controls, from when the World Theater presented vaudeville shows, remain in place. Although not in use, these controls give the theater a historical touch that helps define the World Theater’s place in Kearney’s cultural history.
Justin Hermann, president of the World Theater Foundation, notes the historical value of the building and the importance of the place’s role in the arts of central Nebraska.
“The World Theater brings a unique experience to Kearney and the Kearney arts scene, offering patrons a state-of-the-art film or live theater experience in a historic theater and building that provides patrons with a nostalgic experience with throwbacks to movie theaters of the past, while providing customers with tremendous value for their entertainment dollar,” he wrote in an email. “We are very excited to bring the strong business background and management of Mark Treadway at our theater and we all expect great things from him and the theater in the future. The world is in good hands!
When it comes to striking a balance, Treadway understands that it has to walk a fine line between films that might attract smaller, more passionate audiences and films that will attract more patrons.
“We had a screening of ‘The Last Prairie’ by documentary filmmaker John O’Keefe about the disappearance of grasslands across the country,” Treadway said. “We showed ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, which was amazing. It’s a great movie. No other theater in town showed it and it’s probably one of my favorite movies right now. I love that we play these kinds of films.
While both of these screenings featured non-mainstream films, “The Last Prairie” drew over 150 viewers, about half of the house.
“Being a nonprofit, one of the ways we make our money is through admissions and concessions during these movies,” he said. “We still have to pay movie license fees to get these movies. These cost between $150 and $600, depending on who owns the rights.
The World Theater is looking to sponsorships to help bridge financial differences.
“They’re great,” Treadway said of the individuals and companies that have stepped up to contribute to World Theatre. “They line up to sponsor the movies. People love the World Theater.
Individuals and companies can also rent the World Theater for private shows, weddings and parties.
“We had three photo shoots this month; just people who want to take pictures in the Sweet Shop or on stage if their kids are into theater,” Treadway said. “All that stuff helps.”
As director of the house, he also expects to seek grants to help fund special events.
The World Theater depends on volunteers to help with various tasks on site.
“The volunteers are wonderful,” said Treadway. “There are many who have been here forever.”
He notes the work of Xavier Chavez, who has a long history with theater that dates back decades. He also acknowledged the many hours donated by Tammy Rodehorst and Jimmi Anderson who often find creative ways to motivate other volunteers.
High school students can also volunteer at World Theater to receive credit for their community courses.
“If you have to choose, would you rather pick up the trash or help out at a cinema where you can watch a movie? Treadway asked. “It’s pretty much a no-brainer.”