Rebuilding America: Twilight Theatre in Greensburg welcomes patrons back with open arms

Hannah Brown
Mike McBeath, George Ryan, and the Easter Bunny, along with other Twilight Theatre volunteers put together Easter Baskets to sell while shut down due to the coronavirus.

The Twilight Theatre in Greensburg has been closed for two months due to COVID-19, but General Manager George Ryan said he and his staff are excited to serve the residents in the area once again.

“The Twilight Theatre belongs to the people of Kiowa County and we operate it for them,” said Ryan.

The Twilight kicked off its first weekend open with a two-comedy special showing, Tommy Boy and The Longest Yard, on May 29, 30, and June 1. Both movies could be watched for the price of one. Friday and Saturday at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. These movies were sponsored by the Kiowa County Pharmacy.

Another fun activity that happened on Saturday at the theatre was a live showing of the SpaceX launch, which was free to the community. Ryan said there were several new measures put in place to keep patrons safe while enjoying the theatre with coronavirus recommendations in mind.

For every three rows of seating, only one was open and large families could sit together in the same row.

Other safety measures in place at the Twilight included no ticket-takers. Concession workers gave new cups or popcorn buckets in place of refilling the one already used. There were shields in place to protect workers, along with regular sanitation and cleaning throughout the theatre.

Although the shutdown created many obstacles for the entertainment industry, there were a few bright spots. Staff of the Twilight put together Easter baskets for families in the community to purchase as a special project during the pandemic. The theatre received almost $1,470 of revenue in the form of 31 gift cards through the BTI Supports matching gift card program. There has also been curbside popcorn sales on every Friday night from 5-6 p.m.

“Over the time we were closed, I’m going to say we probably sold the equivalent of 300 buckets of popcorn,” said Ryan.

The Twilight is a not-for-profit organization, like most other small theaters. This caused the Twilight to struggle financially.

Ryan said he was very thankful he was able to secure funds from the Payroll Protection Program, which allowed him to continue paying his employees during the pandemic. Without this program, Ryan would not have been able to pay his employees.

The Twilight Theatre’s biggest fundraiser of the year was canceled due to the pandemic, but it has been rescheduled for August. There will be dueling pianos as entertainment and a prime rib dinner or grilled salmon meal catered by Blue Moon Caterers of Wichita.