119 S. Main Street • PO Box 103
Plentywood, MT • 406-765-1580
Since taking over the theater, the Orpheum Theatre board has had to spend a great deal of money to preserve our historical building and update the equipment. In 1928 our current building was re-built, after a fire. Many of the elements of the theater are original, including the marquee, the murals on the ceiling in the entryway and on the walls of the auditorium, the vaudeville stage, the balcony, and the box office. Many people who visit Plentywood like to visit the theater to see this historic treasure, making the Orpheum almost a museum.
Our theater is run primarily by volunteer/trainees. To fully staff our theater for a movie, we have 5 positions to fill (one to run the box office, one to take tickets, and three in the concessions stand.) At least four of those five positions for each movie are volunteer/trainees. Sometimes all five are volunteer/trainees. Without these workers, we would physically not be able to run our theater. These positions can filled by students (starting at the fifth grade.) As a board, we put a great deal of time and effort into training these young volunteer/trainees with the skills that they will use in the future, both in communicating with other people and for future jobs. Some are basic skills such as proper hygiene, food handling, sweeping, and good public service skills, such as making eye contact. Some of the more advanced skills we teach include running the cash register, counting out the cash boxes, running the box office, reporting and record keeping, and even learning the computer skills required for uploading the movies, putting in the previews, and scheduling the showings. All of these are valuable skills for students to gain, and will help them in their future endeavors. We have seen some of our trainees who were very timid and shy at the beginning, blossom into very confident, young individuals.
As a board, we have come up with a number of incentives to encourage our students to volunteer. For instance, for every student that volunteers, their name is sent to the school and they are rewarded CAT Tickets which is a school incentive program designed to promote service and good grades. Students in our local chapter of the National Honor Society are some of our consistent volunteers as well. Volunteering at the theater is a great way for them to get their required service hours for membership. For our local Explore America group donations have been greatly appreciated. Our county has a number of different 4H groups, and they often volunteer as a group to do a service project. Often times families volunteer and work together. Our theater is very important to our community, and our community steps up to make it work and to keep it open.
In the past the Orpheum Theater has done a number of special events to enhance our community, education, and organizations. Since our theater has a beautiful stage, a fully stocked concessions stand, ramps to make the building handicapped accessible, and comfortable seats, it makes it a wonderful place for community events. Below is a list of a few of these events that have taken place at the Orpheum over the past few years free of charge, with non-profits, schools, organizations.
• After prom parties for area schools
• Dance Recitals
• School Speech and Drama Community Performances
• A senior class fundraiser
• A community style show
• Special centennial movie shown during the community centennial weekend
• Magician for the youth in the community
• Free movies during the Lions Club Basketball Tournament for visitors
• Special presentations for teams, clubs, and religious groups
• Special fundraiser for our local PEAF (alumni foundation)
• Community presentations and speakers
• Vigilante Players
• Variety shows
• A New Year’s Eve party for youth
• Special movie presentations for youth co-ordinated with our local Elks Club
• Special movies for all of the schools in our county
• Donating tickets to events such as after prom and graduation parties
• Montana Job Service Training Sessions
• Sheridan County Community Foundation meetings and presentations
• Coordinate Free youth tickets for low-income youth with churches, organizations, social services.
Every year the Orpheum Theater provides a number of free movies and events for the youth of our community. Each fall we do a free movie and Halloween costume contest for all age groups. Volunteers help to organize the event, judge the contest, work the concessions stand, and clean the theater at the conclusion. The Orpheum also donates movie passes and concession stand coupons as prizes. At Christmas time, also a free movie, the children also receive a special treat bag and prizes, sometimes getting to see Santa. Again, this entire event is manned by community volunteers.
One thing that we pride ourselves on at the Orpheum is our low ticket prices. Prices seem to be going up all around us, but as a board we have voted to keep our youth ticket price at $5 per movie. This is well below the national average. Living in a small community, there are not many things for our youth to do. By keeping youth prices affordable, we feel that families, can still afford to come to the movies. For $10 a youth can attend a movie and get a pop and popcorn combo.
As one can see, our theater could not run without the volunteers. If one figured out the volunteer hours donated each week and multiplied it by an hourly wage, it is safe to say that our theater would no longer be able to be open. It would not be economically feasible. We see our theater more as a community service, learning and training center, not a business. A historic building for use by non-profits, schools, and organizations.
Moving towards the future, we have a number of plans to continue serving our community.
Promoting education will continue to be a focus of the Orpheum. We will continue to work with all of the schools in our community to sponsor events and support them in any way possible, and we will encourage these organizations to utilize our building to promote their programs.
Along with promoting education and training of our youth, we will continue to promote the community as well.
We will continue to provide special movies and events for the community.
Some ideas are community lip sync events like were held in the past, old movies, and variety shows. This would allow us to provide family friendly entertainment for the people of Sheridan County and a revenue for school groups or other non-profit organizations.
We will continue to encourage people to volunteer, and we will work with local service organizations to help fill our need for volunteer/trainees. After seeing the success of donating to organizations like Explore America, we want to expand that to other groups that are raising funds for educational purposes.
Coordinate Free youth tickets for low-income youth with schools, churches, organizations, social services.
Skill/Responsibility Training for non-violent Youth Offenders (Past program to reinstate)
A lot of our emphasis is on the youth in our community, but we would also like to expand into aspects of adult education as well.
To coordinate with other non-profit agencies to host fundraisers. Some examples may be a special dinner/movie event or sponsoring a movie with another non-profit agency such as the PEAF.
Host Motivational and Inspirational training for local employers and school sports teams
Establish a scholarship fund for local youth.
The criteria of this scholarship would center on volunteerism and service to the community.
This scholarship would be made available to students in all of the schools in our community.
Scholarships to fund low income students on an educational endeavor, once again focusing on service.
Building Restoration (completed)