Royal Theatre owner/operator Lisa Milne welcomes Greater Trail residents back to a new and wondrous entertainment experience. Go online to book a ticket at royaltheatretrail.com.  Photo: Jim Bailey.

Covid intermission reels in a new era for the Royal Theatre

COVID safe, the newly renovated Royal Theatre in Trail welcomes patrons back to the movies

At almost a century old, the Royal Theatre in downtown Trail has never looked better.

Thanks to owners/operators Lisa and Jason Milne, the grande dame of Kootenay theatres was given a major makeover during the coronavirus-forced eight-month shutdown.

“Across Canada there are a lot of theatres that won’t open back up, in the smaller towns that don’t have the support, so it’s in really dire straights right now,” explained Lisa Milne, who took over operations of the theatre in 2009, breathing new life and community interest into the aging structure.

Related read: Royal Theatre among cinemas featured in doc

See more: 15 new cases of COVID in Interior Health

Built in 1927 as a live theatre, the Royal has been a favourite destination of Greater Trail families for 93 years, with the latest and arguably most impressive version opening just two weeks ago.

“I wish I had done it a couple months ago, but we couldn’t,” Lisa told the Trail Times. “But absolutely, the response has been amazing. I have actually had people in tears when they arrived, they were just so glad to be out.

“And while they still maintain that space, that bubble, they still have that feeling of community, which is exactly what we need right now.”

The vintage lighted frames were found stored in one of the old back rooms of the 1927 original live theatre, and revived for the newly renovated Royal. Photo: Jim Bailey.

The vintage lighted frames were found stored in one of the old back rooms of the 1927 original live theatre, and revived for the newly renovated Royal. Photo: Jim Bailey.

The Milnes were incredibly proactive during the pandemic, when essentially all movie theatres had been shuttered and no films released due to COVID-19.

They seized the opportunity to undertake a major renovation, transforming an aging interior into a state-of-the-art entertainment icon.

“It wasn’t just dreamt up because of the pandemic, definitely it is something we wanted to do, but it was going to be a more phased approach.”

The Milnes installed a brand new HVAC system, expanded the lobby, and moved the washrooms.

The theatre walls were stripped to expose original brick-work three-stories high, and they traded out the old screen for a technological marvel, a curved 3D screen about the size of a football field.

“The curved screen gives you a completely immersing experience,” said Lisa. “The centre of the screen actually follows you as you’re watching the movie, and at 50-feet, we’re the largest screen outside of Calgary and Vancouver.”

But the pièces de resistance are the 146 massive, single and double, leather reclining chairs with drink holders, which replace the old-style movie seats.

“We’ve known for years that these are what people want,” said Lisa. “We have to get you out of your comfy couch at home, and come down here and have our delicious homemade popcorn, and watch the latest movie.”

She is trying creative ways to keep the business viable including adding more showings in the form of matinees, streaming Trail Smoke Eaters games, bringing in older films, and renting the theatre out to groups and organizations.

The Royal Theatre also looks forward to the day it can resume showings of the Metropolitan Operas, Bolshoi Ballets, musicals, and art house pictures.

The renovations not only realized a small dream for the Milnes, but also provided a gift for the Greater Trail community.

Not only will watching newly released films be an amazing experience, residents were also able to scoop up the old chairs and add a keepsake to their rec rooms or front porch, and the renovations also employed a number of local workers during a very difficult time.

The result speaks volumes, for it wasn’t until the screen went up and the scaffolding came down that the Milnes could truly appreciate what they had accomplished.

“We haven’t been able to turn on our equipment for seven months,” Lisa said. “The day we put some trailers on and it worked, I just stood here in tears, and said, ‘That’s exactly what ‘she’ wants to be. This is what this building was built for, and she’s in the happiest place ever right now, it’s just amazing.’”

While the pandemic continues, so will protocols within the theatre.

The Royal’s capacity is capped at 50 people per showing, so patrons are asked to purchase tickets online, or otherwise risk the show being sold out when they arrive at the box office.

In addition, the Royal is offering tours of the theatre to anyone who would like to view the new upgrades and/or ensure it is safe, sanitary, and socially distanced.

“We’re offering tours for people to just take a quick look around and see, so that they can understand when they come to the movie, how we are trying to keep them safe.”

For those attending, masks or face coverings are required in the lobby, but movie-goers can remove them once seated. Masks will be available to purchase if you do not have one.

Children under age five are not required to wear a mask.

The Royal’s interior renovation reveals the original brick work.

The Royal’s interior renovation reveals the original brick work.



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Trail and District Arts Council

Just Posted

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters block Castlegar’s main street for 24 hours

Members of Extinction Rebellion stayed overnight in downtown Castlegar

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read