By Bavani Purushothaman, photography by Ruth Novella
Stepping into the Egyptian Theatre takes me back in time to a bygone era. It’s a feast for my senses. The vibrant colors add a splash of grandeur while the majestic proscenium arch over the stage is carried on two large columns on each side that are ornamented with Egyptian figures. Gold pharaohs guard the stage, watching and observing the patrons. The original Robert-Morton pipe organ that provided music for silent films still stands near the screen.
The Egyptian Theatre opened its doors on April 19, 1927, for the screening of “Don Juan” to hundreds who were undeterred by spring’s snowfall the day before. The Egyptian, was also known as the Fox in the 1930’s, the ADA in the 1940’s and again as the Egyptian in the late 1970’s. It remains today as the last standing single screen theatre.
Entering the theatre with Destiny, the Egyptian Theatre’s Manager, for our interview, she casually hits the lights, bringing a burst of life to the theatre. Her demeanor is of one being at home rather than at the workplace. Meeting Destiny brings to mind the words of Oscar Wilde, “It was only in the theater, that I lived.” Destiny, originally from California, first moved to Sandpoint in Idaho and then came to call Boise home due to a job opportunity at the Egyptian Theater. Destiny remarks, “I have covered every area of responsibility from greeting the customers, working the concession booth, cleaning the theatre, to event coordinating, being the lighting technician, and now, managing the theatre.” She says that her seven person team is like a family. Everyone chips in regardless of their official duties. She shares that it’s a joy to work for the Hardy family, the owners of the theatre, who have a deep love for their community and for the arts.
When asked to name one of her most memorable experiences, Destiny gushes, “David Sedaris is one of my ultimate favorite authors. I have had the pleasure of working with him twice. I’m so excited that I have managed to book him for 2016.”
Destiny says her career is a lifestyle. She is passionate about people remembering to smile, laugh, and have fun. “I want them to enjoy something. I want them to remember to breathe again and remember ‘hey, I’m alive’”. This is the driving force behind her penultimate goal for the theatre. She aims to give theatre patrons the unforgettable experience of enjoying something “extravagantly gorgeous,” yet having a feeling of “home away from home.” Destiny concludes our chat by emphasizing that the theatre experience is a team effort. No one is more or less important, from the tour bus drivers, the theatre staff, patrons, the performers’ babysitters for their children, to the performers themselves. Everyone has a role. This is true entertainment, in every sense of the word.
The Egyptian Theatre is Boise’s epitome of entertainment. Its myriad of ongoing events offer something for everyone—classic movies, opera, film festivals, concerts, readings, and conversations with authors. The Theatre is home to company parties such as the Saint Alphonsus annual Christmas party. Companies are fortunate to have this venue as an option for events. Tours for private and charter schools are also conducted to incorporate the learning of Egyptian history.
I look forward to my maiden attendance of Opera Idaho. Lights, Theatre, Action!
For more information about The Egyptian Theatre: