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100 Years Old – The Grand Lady Known as the Shuler Theater

By Marty Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media –

  100 years ago the doors opened to the public for the first time for “The Red Rose” a play on the stage of the city auditorium. The building was later named for Dr. John Shuler, the moving force behind the $55,000 project that would also include city hall.

On April 27, 2015 a ceremony of sorts, a variety show, a history lesson, was held to commemorate this historic building turning 100. Bill Fegan and Billy Donati sat down on stage and reminisced about the history of the beautiful old building and how it came to be the grand place that it is today. Mixed in with the conversation were groups of singers from present day. The stage of the Shuler has been graced many a time with not only plays but singing shows and even a few weddings, noted Donati.

Many a story was told by young and old alike of the times they spent on the Shuler stage. Even as youngster many a Ratonian watched a film as the Shuler was also a movie theater in its younger days.

Fegan also told the story of how he came to Raton and brought a group of actors called the Kaleidoscope Players with him. Had it not been for Evlyn Shuler desiring to have the historic building brought back to life, the outcome might not have been what it is today. It was Evlyn Shuler who first introduced Fegan to the Shuler. A place that would become his second home. 

The Shuler has seen Chinese Acrobats and singing acts from the likes of Michael Martin Murphy to cowboy poets. Plays featuring the youngsters of Raton and broadway style plays. Over the years the Shuler has gained a reputation as an acoustical marvel and as noted by Donati “it wasn’t designed by a computer.” The reputation has grown and now many acts that are traveling this part of the country who have an open day will often stop for a show. 

Coming soon to the Shuler will be a new movie screen and a state of the art digital sound system to play movies, again reminiscent of her past. Having two movies screens will help the El Raton with booking movies and also help rejuvenate Raton’s historic downtown. 

 

Bill Fegan and Billy Donati talk about the 100 years of history of the Shuler Theater during the 100th anniversary show Monday evening.

Bill Fegan and Billy Donati talk about the 100 years of history of the Shuler Theater during the 100th anniversary show Monday evening.

 

One of the original curtains at the Shuler. The curtain was made of 4x25 foot canvas panels

One of the original curtains at the Shuler. The curtain was made of 4×25 foot canvas panels and is painted with water colors

 

The Raton Kids Khorrale. Made up of young singers from Raton

The Raton Kids Khorale  sang Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music.

 

Howard and Carol Woodworth waltz on the Shuler Stage

Howard and Carol Woodworth waltz on the Shuler Stage

 

The Raton Glee is made up of Raton High students

The Raton Glee mesmerized the audience with their version(s) of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

 

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Kelly Jones’ gets ready to sneeze during her comedic rendition of Adelaide’s Lament from “Guys and Dolls”.

 

Bill Fegan and Billy Donati talk about the Shuler's history and future.

Bill Fegan and Billy Donati talk about the Shuler’s history and future.

 

Bill Fegan sings to the crowd at the Shuler

Bill Fegan sings to the crowd from his favorite musical, My Fair Lady.

 

Sarah Kowalski and Adella Garcia and they are the Char women who perform during "A Christmas Carol"

Sarah Kowalski looks on suspiciously as Adella Garcia thinks she’s having the big one.  Both have played Char women for the past several years in “A Christmas Carol”.

 

John Martin has spent many an hour on the Shuler stage singing to the audience.

John Martin has spent many hours at  the Shuler singing, acting and directing.

 

Sue Martin one of the many singers/actresses to grace the Shuler stage in recent years.

Sue Martin one of the many singers/actresses to grace the Shuler stage in recent years.

 

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David Ode spins the yarn as he tells of many of his exploits both in acting and on the Shuler Stage.

 

Adrianne Coleman and ?? sing some opera.

Kelly Jones and Adrianne Coleman sing the Flower Duet.

 

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Carol Simmons, aka “Magic Fingers” by the kids, has accompanied dozens of show on the Shuler Stage.

 

Carol Simmons plays an original piece as Bill's Fegan and Donati look on.

Carol Simmons plays an original piece as Bill’s Fegan and Donati look on.

 

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Jacob Sanchez, Sue Martin, Heidi Briscoe, Meagan Deiter, Alan Kinlund and Laura Robertson sing The Other Night from A Christmas Carol.

 

Jacob Sanchez performed "Eidelweiss" from the Sound of Music and wowed the crowd.

Jacob Sanchez performed “Eidelweiss” from the Sound of Music and wowed the crowd.

 

Alan Kinland spoke about his time on the Shuler Stage with Bill and Billy. Alan was the youngest to perform on stage and has performed many times since.

Alan Kinlund spoke about his time on the Shuler Stage with Bill and Billy. Alan was the youngest to perform on stage and has performed many times since.

 

Billy Donati was honored with a plaque to go on the wall of fame at the Shuler.

Billy Donati was honored with a plaque to go on the wall of fame at the Shuler.

 

Howard Woodworth accepts a Shuler "Wall-of-Fame" award for his years of acting/directing/producing at the Shuler.  Woodworth first performed on the Shuler Stage in 1949 and most recently directed/acted in the Raton Choral Society's "Hello Dolly" this past March 2015.

Howard Woodworth accepts a Shuler “Wall-of-Fame” award for his years of acting/directing/producing at the Shuler. Woodworth first performed on the Shuler Stage in 1949 and most recently directed/acted in the Raton Choral Society’s “Hello Dolly” this past March 2015.

 

The Willow Springs Singers wrap up the 100th anniversary event Monday evening

The Willow Springs Singers wrap up the 100th anniversary event Monday evening

One comment on “100 Years Old – The Grand Lady Known as the Shuler Theater

  1. This was a very interesting article to read and the photos were great as well. Thank you for bringing back the Shuler Theater. It is definitely a historic landmark. Would it be possible to find pictures of past performances from “way back” in the 60’s or 70’s? I remember many Ratonians performing in classics like Oklahoma, Brigadoon and My Fair Lady. I also remember when the majority of the Raton teachers participating in a play. Would be great to see those old pictures, if they exist.