A piece of Stettler’s history will turn 70 later this year.
The Jewel Theatre opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 21, 1953.
At the time, the 530-seat theatre was state of the art, even featuring a crying room for parents to soothe their infant children.
When the theatre opened in 1953, the first movie to play during its grand opening was Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song.
The movie will be playing on the silver screen of the Jewel Theatre again when current owner Wendy Rairdan hosts a black-tie Red Carpet event on June 30.
“The Jewel has been a Stettler landmark and a beloved outing for Central Albertans and visitors of the area for seven decades,” said Wendy Rairdan, Owner/Operator of the Jewel Theatre.
“It is an important part of our community, very important to our local economy, and every space where a community can come together, and share experiences should be championed.”
The modern-day Jewel Theatre has undergone significant change since it first opened its doors; many of the changes have occurred since Rairdan purchased the facility in December 2020.
While many of the upgrades remain unseen and unappreciated by guests, Rairdan has upgraded the electrical and plumbing in the facility, had it re-roofed, and had new flooring installed.
Some of the more visible upgrades Rairdan has made to the facility include a complete makeover of the Lobby, the addition of a handicapped-accessible washroom, and the removal of some seating to allow for the installation of tables to go along with seating.
More recently, a new commercial popcorn machine and a new high-end laser projector were recently installed.
Under Rairdan, the Jewel has also become a community supporter. Through the community volunteer program, more than $5,000 has been donated to non-profit groups around the area and the Green Jewel Sustainability Program makes the theatre one of the most environmentally responsible in the province.
There have been several challenges faced by the Jewel over the last several years. Between chronic staffing shortages, significant changes in the industry, a catastrophic projector malfunction which caused the closure of the facility for two months over the 2022 holiday season and the fallout of the COVID pandemic, there were times when Rairdan questioned whether the theatre would see its 70th anniversary. However, she pressed on.
In addition to the showing of Calamity Jane, a short film chronicling the Jewel’s history featuring local interviews will be shown and a reception complete with drinks, snacks, and swag bags will be held.
Tickets for the gala can be purchased at the theatre from Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, check out www.jeweltheatre.ca.