On Sat., Jan. 8, Caleb Bailey & Paine’s Run, a popular bluegrass band based in the Shenandoah Valley, performed a benefit concert for The Historic Masonic Theatre.
The event was attended by 156 theatergoers who purchased tickets that ranged from $15 to $25 depending upon the seating location.
The performers did not charge for their performance, and the entire gate along with funds derived from concessions sold benefited the theatre.
The Underground on the bottom floor of The Historic Masonic Theatre now operates as a sports bar and lounge.
Envisioned by Executive Director Justin Reiter and The Historic Masonic Theatre’s Board of Directors as a place in Clifton Forge for viewing sports, enjoying live music, and attending occasional comedy acts. The Underground is equipped with large-screen TVs, and a state-of-the-art sound system has been installed.
The Underground, dedicated to Tom Dean and Racey & Dean, Inc., features a full-time service bar, draft specials, and snacks that can be enjoyed in comfortable seating.
There is a $5 cover charge, and the bartenders are in charge of checking IDs. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Currently, face masks are not required, only recommended.
Operation hours are from 5:00 p.m. till 11:00 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon till 7:00 p.m. on Sundays.
The Historic Masonic Theatre’s management has purchased the NFL package, and management hopes that area football fans will frequent The Underground that is situated next to the theatre’s dressing rooms located directly below the theatre’s stage.
The cornerstone of The Historic Masonic Theatre reveals that it was laid in 1905, and the wooden beams in The Underground are the original ones that serve as braces for the theatre’s lobby and ticket booth directly above The Underground.
The Underground can also be entered via the elevator in the theatre’s lobby or by walking down the flight of original wooden stairs.
Customer parking is available behind the theatre and adjacent to the Masonic Amphitheatre. Also, those who park on Main Street near the theatre may enter The Underground by climbing down the metal stairs leading from Main Street above Smith Creek and ending near the entrance to The Underground.
The Underground also doubles as a venue for smaller acts, and such groups as Cane Mill Road from North Carolina, Crossing County Lines-Virginia Boys, and the Junior Virginia Opry have performed on the portable stage utilized by The Underground.
The Historic Masonic Theatre is supported by The Town of Clifton Forge, owner of the building. The Town sponsors The Historic Masonic Theatre’s movie series that provides free movies, popcorn, hotdogs, and soft drinks to the public.
January’s free movie opportunities include “The Outsiders” on Jan. 16, at 3:00 p.m., “The Breakfast Club” on Jan. 23, at 3:00 p.m., “Brave Heart,” on Jan. 30, at 3:00 p.m
Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters will be inducted as members of The Virginia Opry and perform “Be My Valentine Show,” on the stage on Sat., Feb. 5, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame group’s performance can be purchased at the theatre’s box office at 510 Main Street or by calling (540) 862-5655 or by visiting www.historicmasonictheatre.com. Tickets are priced from $20 to $35 depending upon seating location.
Should area bands or performers wish to volunteer to perform benefits for The Historic Masonic Theatre, Elizabeth Putnam, theatre manager, can be contacted at the number listed above.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.