CREATIVE PEAKS: Playhouse Plays 100

By on September 22, 2015

Jackson’s first live theater gears up to celebrate its legacy building

A 100-year  birthday party for the historic building housing Jackson Hole Playhouse happens Sunday night. (Photo: Jackson Hole Playhouse)

A 100-year birthday party for the historic building housing Jackson Hole Playhouse happens Sunday night. (Photo: Jackson Hole Playhouse)

One hundred years ago Pap Deloney built a livery stable, blacksmith and buggy shop that would later become Jackson’s first automobile shop. It’d also go on to house an electric shop, a billiard hall and bowling alley. It transformed one more time in the 1950s when it became Jackson’s first live theater, then called the Pink Garter Theater and Diamond Lil.

The Garnick family has owned and operated what is now called the Jackson Hole Playhouse for more than 30 years and they’d like to see the 100-year-old building stand another century.

On Sunday, the Playhouse is hosting a celebration in honor of the building’s 100th birthday. The party includes music, an old-time street dance, pony rides, food, charity gambling and an auction of historic Playhouse memorabilia, said Steve Badgett, operations manager. The charity gambling runs from 8:30 to 10 p.m. and the auction starts at 8 p.m.

All of the money raised at the party will go to restoring and fortifying the historic building, Badgett said.

“It’s celebrating the past, while looking to the future,” he said. “It’s embracing the history of the place, while looking forward to the next act.”

Owner Vicki Garnick will unveil remodeling plans for the Playhouse at the party. The Garnick family plans to preserve the façade and historic character of the building, while constructing a new dinner theater and adding classrooms for music and theater education.

“The Playhouse is really the heart of the community,” Badgett said. “While so much has changed, it’s stayed the heart of the cultural center of Jackson. It’s what makes Jackson special. It’s why people come here — they want cowboys. They want antlers. They want gun fights.”

The Playhouse is known for its Western musicals like “Annie Get your Gun” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” In his 15 years with the Playhouse, Badgett has performed on its stage more than 1,600 times.

While other theater companies in town shuttered, the Garnicks kept the Playhouse going. It represents that Old West hospitality and the mom-and-pop business that first helped Jackson grow, Badgett said.

“We call the building the ‘Majesty of the West,’” Badgett said. “We want to fortify it and modernize it so it can last another 100 years.” PJH

100th Anniversary Party for the Jackson Hole Playhouse, 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Playhouse, 145 W. Deloney Street, $25 donation, children are free.

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