Theater changes programming

By Guy D’Astolfo

COLUMBIANA — Main Street Theater is changing its programming in hopes of finding a niche that will prove both popular and profitable.

The former movie theater in downtown Columbiana was purchased several years ago by Don Arthurs, who gave it a $1 million renovation. Arthurs, a Boardman resident and one of the founders of Turning Technologies in Youngstown, grew up in Columbiana and went to shows at the movie house as a youngster.

Main Street reopened last year and had been showing a mix of first-run movies with live theater, music and comedy performances mixed in on weekends.

However, the theater has been struggling in recent months due to the economic downturn and other factors. So Arthurs, who took over day-to-day operation of the theater earlier this year, has altered its direction.

There will be no more first-run films. Instead, live performances and themed movie weekends will make up the programming. Last weekend, the 2004 film “The Phantom of the Opera” was showing at the theater. This weekend’s offering will be “The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Movie” (1978), and the following weekend will bring the Bogart-Hepburn classic “Casablanca” (1942). Ticket prices for themed movie weekends are $2 for adults and $1.50 for children 10 and under.

“We are hoping that this change gives people an alternative entertainment option on the weekends without breaking the bank,” said Arthurs.

Beginning next year, two weekends each month will be earmarked for live performances. Two events are already on the schedule: a singing competition and a comedy show.

The second annual Vocal Talent Competition will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 19. In the first round, contestants will sing a cappella. In round two (Oct. 17), they will sing with piano or CD accompaniment; and in round three (Nov. 21), with a live band. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each of the three age categories.

Registration packets can be downloaded from and must be completed and returned to Main Street Theater, along with the $10 registration fee, by Monday. Admission prices will be $3 for round 1, $5 for round 2 and $10 for the finals, or all three rounds for $15.

The comedy show, “Main Street Madness,” will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 and 4 p.m. Sept. 27. The show will consist of “clean” humor sketches and live music, said Arthurs. Music will be provided by Jim Couchenour, who will be releasing a new CD that weekend. Tickets are $10 ($5 for children 10 and under) and may be purchased at the door or in advance at or by calling (800) 838-3006.

Another change at the theater will be in the space formerly occupied by Encore cafe. The eatery, which adjoined the theater lobby, closed this summer due to poor business. It will be converted into a multipurpose room for parties and other events, said Arthurs.