More than a movie theater

More than a movie theater

Visit by real service dogs to highlight Blair showing of ‘Pick of the Litter’
By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

The Blair Theater is going to the dogs.

But that’s exactly what Blair manager Danielle Smith hopes will draw a crowd next Thursday evening, October 11, beginning at 6 p.m.

The movie Pick of the Litter will show at the Blair starting this Friday, October 5. The movie follows a litter of puppies from the day they are born to start to train to become service dogs for the blind.

The final night of the show moviegoers will get a hands-on experience when employees KSDS, Inc., (formerly Kansas Special Dog Service Inc.), Washington will bring service dogs to the theater.

KSDS provides guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs to assist individuals with physical disabilities and facility dogs that assist professionals in the field of education, counseling, healthcare, retirement or the legal system.

The 501c3 organization has placed more than 550 dogs during its 28 years in operation.

Movie time is 7 p.m. each night (closed Mondays). Admission on Tuesday night is $2 and moviegoers can see the show on Last Chance Thursdays for $3. Other nights admission price is $5.

New manager

The chance to be part of a theater that shows movies that entertain and educate is a passion for Smith, who holds a degree in film studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was hired in August to manage the Blair.

“I really enjoy films and I was excited about an opportunity to be part of the decisionmaking process for what films would show in a theater near me,” says Smith, who lives at Chester, Nebr.

Smith says small theaters like the Blair often have to wait several weeks to schedule the most popular movies after they open. She hopes to add award-winning documentaries and lesser-known films like Pick of the Litter, the recent Three Identical Strangers, and the upcoming Where Hands Touch to the movie lineup to appeal to adults and children, along with animated titles.

“I’d like to bring in some unique films that enhance our understanding of the world,” she says. Three Identical Strangers, for instance, documented the lives of triplets separated at birth who didn’t meet until college. Where Hands Touch tells the story of the relationship between a biracial teen and a member of the Nazi Germany Hitler’s Youth during World War II.

“I’m always open to suggestions from the community,” adds Smith. “I’d love to hear what kind of movies they like.

“The problem is there are only 52 weeks in a year, which is not enough time to show all the good movies that are available,” she says.

It was the movies that brought Smith, an Omaha native, to the area.

She met her boyfriend, Andy Wassom, Chester, when she came to Superior, Nebr. to study screenwriting under Lew Hunter, a UCLA teacher and Emmy-nominated writer. Smith has earned more than a dozen screenwriting awards and nominations for her work, including winner of the best short screen play at the 2015 Kansas City Women in Film and Television and Kansas City Film Fest.

She laughs that she and Wassom are true “cinephiles” with more than 2,500 films in their personal collection.

Blair Bash

Smith joins the Blair Theater at a busy time, as the board prepares for its annual Blair Bash fundraiser Saturday, November 3, at the Commercial Building on the NCK Free Fairgrounds. This year’s theme, The Roaring ‘20s, celebrates the 90th anniversary of the theater, when Sam and Katie Blair opened its doors in downtown Belleville in 1928. Guests are encouraged to come in ‘20s costume, and vintage cars and silent movies will set the scene.

The Blair is managed by a volunteer board of directors headed by Merle Hadachek, Cuba, president. Other members are Dr. Andy Walker, vice president, Marlea James, secretary; Mikel Hadachek, treasurer; members Laura Joy, Lora Gieber, Becky Benyshek, Lesa Zenger, Steve Breeden, Patricia Stindt, Joey Pickard, Waylon Sheetz, Amy Walker McGuire.

Smith said that concession sales fund a significant portion of the Blair’s budget. Most of the cost of a movie ticket goes back to the studio that produced the movie, she says. The Blair also receives support from Republic County and the City of Belleville.