JOLIET – Things are getting brighter at the Rialto Square Theatre – at least in some ways.
The Rialto marquee will get new bulbs and panels, the first repairs to the sign since a late 2014 controversy erupted over an unpopular plan to replace it with a modern marquee.
The marquee and vertical sign with the word “Rialto” on it have stayed the same since, faded paint and all.
“Anyone who goes out there and takes a look can see what bad shape it’s in,” building operations manager Michael Biedron told the Rialto board Wednesday.
The Rialto board approved two contracts totaling just more than $50,000 to put in the new bulbs and panels on the marquee and repaint the vertical Rialto sign.
The work is funded with a grant and donations received by the Rialto for an alternative marquee project developed since the theater abandoned the 2014 design. The work, which starts immediately, won’t include a digital board or Scott Street sign that are part of the long-term project. But the board appeared happy with the improvements.
“I think it’s going to look great,” Vice Chairwoman Cynthia Tyler said.
The Rialto will hold a lighting ceremony for the marquee Nov. 16, inviting donors and others.
“It will be repainted, relit in time for ‘Twas the Month before Christmas’ events,” said Chairman Dan Vera, mentioning the Rialto’s seasonal fundraiser activities.
The sign also will be ready for country music star Kacey Musgraves’ appearance Dec. 15, the first show booked by VenuWorks, the outside management company hired by the Rialto on Sept. 1 to turn around the theater.
The Musgraves show also has the Rialto board feeling better about its future.
“I think it’s a good chance that it will be a pretty big, full house,” Interim Executive Director Timothy Berry said.
Tickets go on sale Friday. But the Rialto already has sold 400 presale tickets to the Kacey Musgrave Fan Club, Berry said.
The Rialto stopped booking shows after parting ways with General Manager Randy Green in March and then launching a search for an outside management company to take over operations.
VenuWorks is just beginning to book shows, but more apparently are in the works.
“We have another show that is kind of in the chute ready to announce here,” Berry said. Other shows also are in the works, he added.
Companies doing the sign work are Ireland Ltd. of Joliet, which bid $34,960 to do the vertical sign sanding and painting, and Grate Signs of Joliet, which bid $15,730 to do the marquee work.
Donations for the work include $25,000 from the Rotary Club of Joliet and $25,000 from the Rialto Square Theatre Volunteer Organization. The Rialto received a $27,865 federal grant through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.