Library Offers Theater

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The 60-seat screening room brings
big-screen events to town

By Valerie Cellucci

Hampton Union, Friday, March 19, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Darrell Eifert, head of adult services, and Amanda Reynolds Cooper, director of Lane Memorial Library in Hampton, are shown in the new Weston Theater, which was made possible by a generous donation from Richard Weston and is located in the lower level of the library. [Photo by Rich Beauchesne]

HAMPTON -- With the help of a generous bequest by the late Richard Weston, the Lane Memorial Library was able to open the Weston Theater, located downstairs in the Wheaton J. Lane Room, free to the public.

Amanda Reynolds Cooper, library director and Darrell Eifert, head of adult services, said the library had been a significant part of Mr. Weston's life.

"He asked that, in lieu of a service and the costs that come along with passing, that the money be donated to the library to use as we see fit," Cooper said.

When the Hampton Cinemas closed last year, Eifert said the library began discussing the use of the donated money to create a theater that would offer similar services to the public.

"We thought, 'Why don't we provide some kind of theater experience for the community now that we don't have one in town?'" he said.

The Weston Theater is equipped with an impressive 110-inch screen, a state-of-the-art, Blu-Ray projector and surround sound. It can fit 60 people comfortably thanks to money raised by the Friends of the Lane Memorial Library, nonprofit organization created to support the library, to purchase comfortable chairs for the Lane Room and Weston Theater.

The theater opened to the public at its premiere showing of the Disney movie "Up" in November 2009. About 30 people came to the showing.

Two movies are chosen to play each month. They play once during the day and once during the evening on Thursdays and Saturdays, to allow more people to attend. Eifert said there is an average turn out of 15 people to each show.

"We're still trying to find out what people really enjoy seeing," Eifert said. "I make the final decision based on popularity and movie reviews."

Eifert said he is also more than happy to take requests from the public.

Cooper said the library's most successful day was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when over 70 people came to the theater to watch "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

"In that case, since we didn't have enough chairs, all the kids sat up front on the floor and the parents sat in the back, and everyone had just a wonderful time," Eifert said.

The library uses the equipment efficiently by holding meetings, presentations, a teen night and other events for community members to attend.

"That equipment is useful to us all the time, and now that its here, with Mr. Weston's gift, a movie program is cheap for us to offer," Cooper said.

Also held in the room is teen night on the last Friday of every month, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The library has purchased an X-Box and provides the games. Kids are welcome to bring their own as long as they are under a "Y" rating.

Business owners can rent out the room and use the equipment for a $35 fee for up to four hours. Local non-profit groups are usually rented the room for no charge.

The first ever Mom's Night Out was held on Wednesday, March 17, in the theater. The recently released "Up in the Air", six Academy Awards nominated, movie with George Clooney was shown.

On Saturday, March 20, at 2:30 p.m., the theater will be showing "2012." Also, on Thursday April 8 and 10 "Sherlock Holmes" will be playing.

Snack and drinks are provided by the Friends of the Library. Call 926-4729 or visit the Children's Room to reserve a spot.

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