This is my
A little background on the theater. In 1905, the theater was built in downtown Great Barrington
to provide entertainment to the residents of this bustling little town. Originally built as a live theater
stage, film came on board in 1912. Silent movies were only shown here until 1927 when the first
sound system was put in. My grandmother played piano for the silent movies during that time.
In 1930 a major upgrade to the theater system's technical equipment brought better projection
and sound equipment. The theater ran and started a downhill slump until the 1980's when Al Schartz came
into play. Al's determination and love for the theater revitalized the place to a degree. In 1989 , the theater's parent
company was purchased by HOYTS Inc., who did not operate any single screen theaters in the country.
Hoyts' plans were to close the theater and convert it into apartments. But thanks to the efforts
of Schwartz, and several others, the theater remained opened. I started there in January of 1992.
I was a projectionist, and as time went along, I had occasional days where I ran the entire place myself.
It was a great summer job, and a really good chance to see some great movies, and experience life as
a projectionist. A rare trade that is getting obsoleted by modern movie complexes. When my time to
retire from the Mahaiwe came in June of 1994, the theater went some major projection changes,
installing an automated projection system (known as a "Platter"), and Al Schawrtz announced
his retirement from the theater. While I had left in 1994, I did come back to help out occasionally.
I ran the two opening shows (Fri & Sat) of "Batman Returns" in 1995. In 2002 Hoyts sold the theater
to private investors in Great Barrington. It was announced that the theater would go under a multi-million
dollar renovation. Al Schartz came back to the theater, the Mahaiwe was reborn as the
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center! Very lovingly restored to a coniditon most likely better than
opening day was in 1905! (September 5th, 1905, exactly 70 years + 1 day to my birthday!)
(And for you tourists.. it is pronounced 'Ma-Hay-Wee').
Down the front stairs to the new corridor!
The corridor down in the basement.
Looking where the old candy stand used to be. This area was painted an ugly shade of blue.
Looking up at the restored ceiling.
Looking from the stage towards the back of the renovated theater! It's probably is nicer than it even was on opening day!
Looking back stage at the new metal stairs to the flys platform!
The new speaker system behind the screen.
The new roll up elephant door, it replaced an old giant wooden/steel door.
The new hallway to the dressing rooms.
The new boiler room down in the basement. This room was home to several hundred spiders when I
was employed there. It was a dungeon then!
The ETC Dimmer system (part of it...)
More dimmer systems and electrical enterances.
The networked dimmer system network racks.
The emergency lighting system.
The old carbon arc projector that used to sit in the lobby, now in the Basement.
A detailed view of the new carpets and seating.
Looking down at the stage from the upper balcony. (Those spots are dirt in the lens)
Inside the projection booth, this is the new sound system...
Inside the lamp housing of the projector. The 3000 watt bulb.
Looking inside the booth...
A wider view of the booth... much different (and cleaner) then when I was in there!
Looking at the surround speakers and lighting on the side wall from the Booth.
The Mahaiwe's renovated Marquee!
What a beautiful theater! Inside and out!
During the renovation, the Marquee was removed for the renovation. I grabbed this quick nighttime picture of the
theater front without it. A very rare look at the old times of the theater!
Thanks to Paul Kakley for