New seating installed at Brownstown theater


Out with the old, and in with the new.

The mismatched seats that used to fill Royal Off-the-Square Theatre in Brownstown recently were removed, and after a couple of days’ work, new movie theater-style seats were installed.

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Irwin Seating Co. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, manufactured the 130 seats, which were delivered to the theater to be installed by C&J Seating of Marysville, Ohio.

Each of the flip-up seats has a metal base, padding and a cupholder.

The theater used to have 140 seats with either vinyl or cloth padding, but the new seats are now all the same, more comfortable and have more space between them.

The theater went from 14 rows to 13, and each row has four seats on one side and six on the other.

Sarah McGill, administrator of the Jackson County Community Theatre board of directors, said it’s nice to see the two different types of seats removed and new ones in place.

“We bought used ones back in the early days of the theater, and then they were all kind of bad because they were used to start with,” she said, noting the theater was established in 1969 and had its first show at its current location at 121 W. Walnut St., Brownstown, in 1974.

“Then somebody donated (one type of seats) from a church or something, the last bunch we had, so we just took the best of the old ones and made the first four rows, and they were a lot more comfortable,” she said. “These (in the back part of the theater) were hard as rocks.”

The new seats cost about $26,000. In December, the board started a fundraising campaign to cover that expense by giving people an opportunity to sponsor a seat.

There are six giving levels, ranging from contributor level ($1 to $249) to William Shakespeare level ($5,000 and above).

Those giving $250 or more will have a nameplate placed on one of the new seats, have their name listed in the season program and receive tickets to the 50th anniversary party. The 50th season starts in the fall.

Each nameplate can accommodate three lines of up to 25 characters each. People may choose to donate a seat in memory or in honor of someone or they can have their name or business name inscribed on the nameplate.

Donors giving $1,000 or more also will have their name on a plaque at the theater, while those donating $2,500 or more also will receive tickets to theater shows.

So far, McGill said 84 of the seats have sponsors. Most of them are individuals, couples and families, and a few businesses also have sponsored seats.

“We are thrilled,” she said of the response. “We hoped it would be popular, and it has been. We’re more than two-thirds of the way as far as having sponsors for all of the seats.”

McGill said the board didn’t know what to expect in terms of how fast sponsors would step up.

“We felt like it would be something people would want to do because we’ve got people that have been supporting the theater ever since it started,” she said. “We’ve still got some of our original season ticket holders from when we first started, so we figured a lot of people would like to have their name on there to show their support.”

The new seating is among the board’s plans to upgrade the facility as the 50th season approaches.

Recently, the walls inside the theater were painted, and Joe Reynolds, who helps paint sets for shows, painted the sconces that adorn the walls that were from the Royal Theater.

“He grew up in Brownstown, and he said, ‘I will repaint those for you if you’ll let me paint them like they were in the original theater,’ so we said, ‘Go for it,’” McGill said.

The lobby also is being redone, including the former area of the concession stand. The stand was moved to the new addition that was built in 2012. The old location will have a new stairway installed that leads up to the lighting system, and the board is considering a coat closet in the remaining space.

The board also hopes to raise enough money for a new curtain for the stage and upgrades to lights and sound.

“Some people were giving us more than the cost of one seat, which is nice because we have that extra money to work with, so we’ll have some but probably not enough to get our whole wish list done,” McGill said.

The hope is to secure 50 new memberships, $50,000 in community donations and 50 new volunteers, both actors and crew.

“We have enough projects to spend it,” McGill said of the fundraising goal. “We’re hoping when people come to the next show, that will spur us on a little. We got a fair number of people who donated during the dinner theater, so that was nice, and our raffle brought in $2,800.”

The new seats will be debuted during the production of “Half and Half,” which opens in April and is the last show of the 2018-19 season.

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For information about the Jackson County Community Theatre’s 50th season, how you can sponsor a new seat in the theater and how you can contribute to other upgrades, visit

Donor cards and an online donation form are available on that page.

Those wanting to sponsor more than one seat should complete a donor card for each seat and mail it with a check to JCCT, P.O. Box 65, Brownstown, IN 47220.