Mon, Mar 14th, 2011 12:00 am


Guests attending the Wildey Theatre's Final Construction Cocktail Tour on Thursday were pleased with how the newly renovated theatre looks.

During the special event, the Friends of the Wildey offered the community one last chance to see the theatre before it officially opens in April, and the event also helped raise additional funds for the project.

Wildey Committee Chair Rich Walker, and President of the Friends of the Wildey, said the construction crew only has a few more projects to complete in the next few weeks. Overall, the theatre looks finished - most of the work is complete - as the seats are in and the concession stand is up.

On Thursday, guests enjoyed drinks, hors d'oeuvres and toured the nearly completed theatre for two hours.

Most in attendance had followed the project as it progressed, and all were amazed by the theatre's transformation over the past year.

One of the guests was Edwardsville's SJ Morrison. As Morrison toured the top floor, he said he could not believe how many people were in attendance, and how good the theatre looked.

"It is electric," Morrison said.

Another guest, Dr. Lois Ladd, was also thrilled with the renovation. Ladd, also a lifelong resident of the area, recalled all the time she spent in the theatre as a youngster and how Mrs. Duffy, who served as manager of the Wildey Theatre in the 1960s and 1970s, would keep a close eye out for boys getting to close to girls.

Walker said Martha Funke surprised her husband Fred with tickets to the event and didn't tell him about it until they arrived.

"He was thrilled to return to the Wildey - they both were," Walker said.

Walker said he too was pleased with the turnout and the many positive responses he received throughout the evening about the theatre.

"I'm very happy and proud of the turnout and the overwhelming words of encouragement and support. Many people have written or called just to say thank you for the opportunity to tour the building," Walker said.

"Special thanks belong to Bella Milano for the great food and Ionia Atlantic Imports and Crushed Grapes for providing the spirits. A good time was had by all ... with many more good times to come."

On Friday, Walker said guests were still calling, e-mailing and posting thank you's on Facebook.

He said Michael Gallagher had a great post on the Wildey Theatre's Wall.

"The Wildey is spectacular! The WOW factor is present from the moment you hit the front door! The Wine-Tour this evening was fantastic, with great food from Bella Milano and wine from Crushed Grapes. Finishing work is going on every floor. The art deco carpeting is classic '30s in the weave and the theater seating is very comfortable. The new concession area is perfectly positioned. It is easy to see that the Wildey will be a community focal point once again, and the effort of all the people behind the scenes, the city government, and the contractors and architect involved is going to pay off in a spectacular success. Well done everyone," Gallagher said.

During the event on Thursday, guests also had a chance to vote on what will be the first movie to be shown publicly at the Wildey.

Walker said those who were not in attendance still have the opportunity to vote.

He said votes will still be accepted through March 1. The short list of movies that guests can vote for include: "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Back to the Future," "E.T.," "The Sound of Music," "Singin' in the Rain," "The Majestic," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Duck Soup," "Casablanca" and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Walker said the cost is $1 per vote, and votes can be mailed to Friends of the Wildey, 70 Hairpin Drive, P.O. Box 0005, Edwardsville, IL 62026-0005 or taken at the Edwardsville City Hall Parks and Recreation Office at 118 Hillsboro Avenue during the day," he said.

The city has announced it will host a grand opening of the theatre on April 12, 2011 - the 102nd anniversary of the original opening - and a public open house on April 16.

To learn more about the Wildey Theatre, how to donate or learn more about any of the Friends upcoming events, visit