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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Castlegar City Councilors Dan Rye and Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff at Winterfest 2019. Photo: Betsy Kline
Join the Castlegar Making Spirits Bright challenge

Go all out with your Christmas decorating and send us a photo to enter

Glacier Gymnastics head coach Sandra Long says she doesn’t understand why her sport is currently shut down while others are allowed to operate. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘It is bewildering’: Nelson sports leaders call out provincial shut down

Indoor group classes for activities such as gymnastics and dance are on hold

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

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

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read