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Our Town Iowa City: The Show Must Go On

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IOWA CITY - It's hard to believe the Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City almost didn't make it. It is efforts from citizens that have helped the theater thrive over the years. Let's learn what makes the theater so special.

Music and good humor, the Full Monty draws a large crowd at the Englert Theater. Art Director Beth Bewley is happy to see these seats full. She works behind the scenes of the Full Monty.

"Here we are on the set of the Full Monty by City Circle Acting Company. We'll exit stage right through the door to go backstage," said Beth Bewley, Artistic Director.

The Englert Theater opened in downtown Iowa City in 1912.

"Here we are at upstage left. We are going downstairs to the dressing rooms. I always preface this by saying this is the most historic place in the theater. This is the one area that did not burn down in the 1926 fire," said Bewley.

After the fire, the theater had varied success. It struggled to keep its doors open and was sold in 1990. The theatre was set to be turned into a bar.

"Some people were drawn historically to save the building," Bewley said.

Concerned citizens started the 'Save the Englert' campaign. They raised enough money to purchase the theater and bring it back to life. The theater re-opened in 2004 and has had growing crowds ever since.

"I think the community really decided we need a center where we can do Community Theater, a venue in downtown Iowa City that can belong to the community," said Bewley.

The theater seats more than 700 people.

"As you can see, we are up on the balcony...the balcony I think is acoustically, some of the best seats of all time. It's wonderful to watch a show from this perspective," said Bewley.

Bewley says the Englert Theater brings culture to the downtown.

"Iowa City realizes how important culture is to the make-up of a community. It gives identity. We feel we are definitely part of the identity of this downtown area," said Bewley.

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