Constantine hosts Christmas open house, ‘Membership Appreciation’

Constantine hosts Christmas open house, ‘Membership Appreciation’

Patrons and supporters of the historic Constantine Center were treated to an afternoon of good food and entertainment by students from the D’Lynn Everett Music School in Bartlesville.

The event was “Membership Appreciation” and the Constantine Art Council’s way of thanking members and supporters for enabling them to showcase so many events this past year.

Beautifully attired in red sequined dresses, Serena Jeffers, Leah Strahm, and Bryanna Swan of Pawhuska, and Ryann Barham of Bartlesville sang, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Angles We Have Heard on High, Do You Hear What I Heart?, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, and Winter Wonderland.”

All four young ladies play the piano. Jeffers, Strahm and Swan recently appeared in the Children’s Theater production of “The Princess and the Pea.” Jeffers and Strahm are relatively new students at the Everett Music School. Strahm plays multiple instruments and added the clarinet to her bucket list. Swan has been with the Everett studio for two and a half years. Barham also joined Everett’s studio this summer.

“It (the Constantine) is amazing,” said the girls. “We meet a lot of friends. We love working with Gary and Lori.”

The resurrection of the theater began in 1984 when a small group of concerned citizens formed the nonprofit Pawhuska Downtown Revitalization and Preservation Association (PDRPA). The PDRPA established Pawhuska’s historic downtown district that resulted in 89 of its 101 buildings being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unwittingly, these efforts were to be the impetus for the renovations of the old theater that then belonged to the city.

Before the theater could be included in the historic district, intrusive facades had to be removed. In January 1986, removal of the old marquee and ticket booth uncovered hints of the treasurers waiting inside. Like an archaeological dig, each new discovery prompted more probing and more treasurers.

The lobby floor yielded an elaborate Greek mosaic star and outline for the original ticket booth. Rosettes adorning the proscenium and balcony façade concealed small lights. The elaborate ribbon scrolls gracing the proscenium’s upper corners were hand-carved.

In 1987, the Pawhuska community raised $20,000 in less than three weeks that enabled the PDRPA to enter into a contract with the PHS 1987-1988 Vocational-Carpentry Class. Renovations used 600 sacks of plaster and 100 gallons of ceiling paint. The opera boxes were uncovered and refurbished.

Countless volunteers contributed time, money, and materials toward the restoration efforts. The removal of truckloads of debris revealed a long-forgotten orchestra pit. Small grants, community support, numerous donated theatrical productions and the sweat-equity of hundreds enabled the Constantine Center to once again become a viable part of the community.

The Constantine Arts Council was formed in 1989 to oversee the continued renovation and operation of the theater. If this past year is any indication of what’s to come in 2014, then Pawhuska is in for a real treat. Movies, live theater, variety shows, musical entertainment and more topped the theater’s 2013 billing. Wide-screen productions included the magic of Walt Disney’s “Cinderella,” the classic “Hindenburg,” the hauntingly beautiful “Les Misérables,” and the Halloween thriller “Friday the 13th, Part 2.” Live theater brought “The Ransom of Emily Jane” and “The Princess and the Pea.” Film crews chose the Constantine for the upcoming movie, “Army of Frankensteins.” In October, the Constantine held its 4th Annual Sassy Awards which mimiced Hollywood’s Oscars in recognizing outstanding performers. On Saturday, the Constantine will present the Christmas classic “Scrooge” at no charge. The movie, starring Bill Murray, will be shown immediately following the Christmas Parade.

The Constantine was one man’s dream. Its rebirth is a sampling of one community’s inspiration, vision, wisdom, courage, generosity of time and money, organization, perseverance, patience and, most importantly, community cooperation and cohesiveness – a rare and beautiful kind of human endeavor.

Annual memberships run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

“We have a lot of great events planned for 2014,” said Constantine Chair Garrett Hartness. “We strive to keep our events and memberships affordable for the entire family. Memberships run from $15 on up to Corporate Sponsorship of $1,000+. Visit us on Facebook at Constantine Arts Council.”