When I moved to Southern Pines eight years ago, one of the things I found most intriguing was the Sunrise Theater on Broad St. in downtown Southern Pines. I have to say, I was a little intimidated to walk through its well-loved doors and it took some time for me to eventually find my favorite seat up in the balcony.
I may have walked passed it a few times, checked out the marquee, looked at the paper calendar fluttering in the breeze, but eventually my man and I made our way to a Thursday movie and we then settled into a delightful weekly rhythm.
I mean a movie with cold beer and hot popcorn with some delicious chocolates after a hard days work…how can you go wrong?
A year later I fortuitously ended up working right next door to the Theater where I opened up a little shop and named it Mockingbird. One day a customer stopped in and we started talking about the Sunrise and I asked how they chose the movies and how I really would love to be involved with it all somehow. Well as it turned out I was speaking to Loretta Aldridge, who at that time was the Chairwoman of the film committee (SunFlix). A few months later I was voted on to the committee as there was a vacant seat and before I knew it I was the Chair of the SunFlix which runs the movie portion of the Sunrise Theater. What I didn’t realize at the time, but what is now one of my favorite things about the Theater is that pretty much everyone who works the events you see at the Sunrise are your neighbors. We are a family of volunteers who try and make our town shine a little brighter. A place you can go to laugh or be moved whether it’s by the opera, live music, the films or most recently our plays.
You see, the theater is organized and run by a Board of Directors, which is helmed by our current president Craig Pryor, who calmly sets our course and navigates us through any tough decisions while always keeping an eye on the big picture. We are so very lucky to have his leadership and foresight. Next of course we have our amazing employees who keep the theater running smooth while working side by side with our dedicated group of volunteers. From there the different programs are broken down into subcommittees with each subcommittee chair residing on the Board:
Introducing your neighbors:
*We have Jennie Whitehead running The Met Committee. She is in charge of the Opera, National Theater, and the Bolshoi Ballet programming. The Ballet is new this year and it has been doing really great as a Sunday matinee event.
*Next we have Anthony Parks (owner of the Ice Cream Parlor) he’s the Chair of First Friday. He has this event down to a science! He has been organizing this for years and has become a pro, which is so joyfully obvious if you happen to have been taking part the last few years. The crowds are getting bigger and bigger by the year!
*SunEvents is helmed by Herb Cameron whom you can thank for Blues Crawl, Murphy Family Christmas, and Night of Bluegrass just to name a few. Any live music usually has Herb in charge.
*Sunstage is our newest baby. We are doing our best to put together a group of thespians that can pour their heart and passions into this newest venture of live stage productions, which will be acted, produced, and directed by local talent…maybe even you!
*And then there’s SunFlix, that’s where I come in, our committee views hundreds of trailers a year and then vote on our top choices. From there I lobby L.A. to get the best films possible for a one-screen theater, which is 2 miles away from a Ten-Plex…don’t get me started…
Of course none of this would be possible with out the unrelenting drive of our Executive Director Jessica Harrelson, who’s tireless efforts are always keeping us looking forward, staying organized, and raising the bar. With the constant growth of the Sunrise the need for volunteers has become greater which is an awesome problem to have. We are always looking for people who are excited about the Sunrise and I love the idea of neighbors tearing tickets, pouring beer, and greeting there very own community into this historic building. My hope is there will always be the next generation or recently transplanted newcomer to pick up where the ones before left off. The Sunrise is a place that is constantly seeking to do better and bring the next chapter to its doors. Not everything works, but what I love is our willingness to try. We are excited about our new directions and hope the community responds positively.
It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of something larger than you and to know that everyone is working towards the same goal, which is to make our town a little more vibrant and hopefully inspire the next generation of volunteers.
I’ll see you at the Sunrise!
See latest Sand & Pine issue here