The West Shore Theatre will again be a lively location but with many more kinds of events, including movies, of course. The theatre will seat about 250 people in both traditional theatre seats, as well as new restaurant style booths on the sides and a standing lounge area with high top tables behind the concession stand.
We envision events of all kinds. Jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, country, singer/songwriter and open mic nights, chamber music, vocal groups of all kinds, choirs and more. Solo artists such as stand-up comedians, improv groups and small one-act or one-set plays. Though the stage space may be limited our imagination is not. We will welcome all kinds of community events. The theatre will be available for rent for company or corporate events to private parties and fundraising events.
Mission & vision
Eighty years ago the West Shore Theatre opened to great acclaim. Built in 1939 by the prolific theatre architect William Lee of Philadelphia, the WST opened the year after Hollywood’s greatest year: 1939. The list of great movies is staggering. How about The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind just to start? Great movies in your own town. In a beautiful theatre. With family, friends, neighbors, and popcorn. Back then, theatre owners really cared about great spaces for the public. There are wonderful details throughout the WST. They really do not build them this way any longer. These were meant to be important places of community pride.
How about another eighty years? Things have changed so much over these decades but not the desire for great entertainment and other events in a great and wonderful place. Nearly every piece of equipment must be replaced and the infrastructure behind it.
The electrical, the plumping and the HVAC. (If you walk in front of the theatre you might notice the coal shute and the cut out in the sidewalk to get rid of the cinders).
Fortunately, the building structure is sound. And no one tried to make it into a multi-plex. It remains much as it was in 1940 and we want to preserve that feeling but bring it up to date for your enjoyment.
Back then, movies were like TV. Everyone went to catch the latest movies but also the latest news on film. Even when TVs started to come into homes in the 1950’s, the local movie house was still the place to gather, learn, laugh and cry in the company of your neighbors. What a great feeling that must have been.
Times have changed and movie theatres are no longer the essential source of information they once were. Of the twelve neighborhood movie theatres in the region, there is only one still standing. The West Shore Theatre in New Cumberland.
The Future Vision We are excited to bring back the memories and create new ones. We will be adding live events to the schedule and showing movies, of course. Not first run movies. There are plenty of places to see those. But movie events built around holidays and themes. Great classic films and sentiments favorites. A few greats that few have seen. Some new films not on the first run circuit.
All kinds of live music. Jazz, bluegrass, blues, folk and traditional music, singer/songwriters, touring artists, and local performers. School and community music groups. Maybe some small plays or musical reviews. How about standup comedy or improv? Who knows what will find its way to our stage, your stage, in the years to come? For you. For your family and friends. And to bring renewed excitement to the West Shore. Our place. Our theatre.
Look at all the movies that were presented in 1939.
GWTW and Wizard of Oz, of course. Stagecoach, the Duke’s first big starring role in an A list movie. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, featuring Pennsylvania’s own Jimmy Stewart. Of Mice and Men. Goodbye Mr. Chips, Ninochka (Garbo Speaks!) Mickey and Judy in Babes in Arms. Gunga Din. And the Oscar goes to, among others, the first African American to receive the Oscar, Hattie McDaniel for her role in Gone With the Wind.
Board of directors
Frank H. Kelly