Happy birthday, Ohio Theatre!

March 17th, 2016 by CAPASMM

Today at CAPA we have another reason to celebrate, aside from St. Patrick’s Day, it is also the 88th birthday of the Ohio Theatre! The Ohio is not only a world-class venue that is both a state and national landmark where we get to arrange and watch entertaining shows year round, but it is also the reason why CAPA exists in the first place. Our history with the Ohio only goes back to 1969 but we would like to take the time to celebrate and remember just what a dramatic history the Ohio has been through.

After opening day on March 17, 1928 the Ohio gave the stage to many talented vaudeville era performers including Milton Berle, Jean Harlow, and a young emcee with a violin Jack Benny! The Ohio was originally built for silent movies, and then when talking movies took over completely in 1934 it stopped holding live performances. However many movie stars traveled with their movies to promote them, Jean Harlow and Judy Garland both made appearances at the Ohio!

After WWII, times started changing for the Ohio, attendance was dropping, which couldn’t support a large movie house for long until 1969 when the theatre was sold from Loew to a real estate firm. Many believed at the time that this would be the final curtain for the Ohio, since it was threatened to be put under the wrecking ball to build a new state office tower. A few groups banded together to save the Ohio, but CAPA was the only one successful enough to raise $2.5 million, to buy back and restore it.

Since the successful rescue of the Ohio, there has been nothing but success, it was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, then declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and named “Official Theatre for the State of Ohio.” Columbus resident Mary Bishop, who led the restoration effort from 1969-1984, was honored by the National Trust for keeping the Ohio close to the original set up Loew, Lamb, and Dornan envisioned 88 years ago.

So the next time you walk into the Ohio for a performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Broadway in Columbus, the Summer Movie Series, or any of the other great shows our theatre hosts, take a look around and remember the struggles and sacrifices from the creators, the founders and employees of CAPA, and volunteers that got the Ohio to where it is today. Lastly, remember that it is you, the audience, that has given the Ohio the recognition and home it deserves. The Ohio continues to be a center piece of art and culture in Columbus for 88 years because of the people who love to come here and treat it like home. Thank you for making it possible for all of us at CAPA to say “Happy birthday, Ohio Theatre!”

And now, a clip to show you the history that the Ohio has experienced!

Volunteer Spotlight: Don McDowell

March 15th, 2016 by CAPASMM

Volunteers are a very important resource to many non-profit organizations, donating their time, energy, and hard work to help an organization meet its mission, goals, and objectives. Here at CAPA, we are beyond fortunate to have a dedicated core of volunteers that help make us possible. We would like to shine the spotlight on our longest-standing volunteer, Don McDowell.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I served in the army for two years in the Korean War, ending up as an occupation force in Europe, 10 miles outside the Alps. After I got out of the army, I worked for Ohio State Bank, but wasn’t totally satisfied with it. So, I branched out and got a job with Columbus Public Schools as a film librarian, distributing films throughout the school system. That worked out very well. For 65 years, I also taught piano and violin at my parents’ music studio part-time to help keep it going. It’s been a lot of fun.

How long have you volunteered with CAPA?
This year will mark 46 years! In 1969, CAPA was formed and saved the Ohio Theatre, and I wanted to help. Since I knew my way around the movie industry, I booked two or three films which were shown at the Ohio in 1970. It grew into the CAPA Summer Movie Series from there, and in 2016, it will celebrate its 46th year too!

Can you describe some of the things you do for us?
I did the movies for seven years, for a while it was just my wife, Debbie and I volunteering as an usher and in concessions – it’s grown since then. After that, I became an usher and still do that to this day.

What is your favorite memory from working with CAPA?
Getting the movie series going. It was no easy task. It’s important to show the older movies to college-age people.

Do you have a favorite show or performance you’ve seen while with us?
A lot of what the CSO does is magnificent. They’ve progressed in recent years where they are a major orchestra now. My favorite Broadway show is Les Misérables. It has very few spoken scenes. Except for the battle scenes, everything is sung. That’s an opera where I come from, but nobody will admit it.

What made you want to start volunteering with CAPA and what have been some of the benefits?
I’m too cheap to buy tickets and found a way around it. If I bought tickets to everything I wanted to see, it’d be too much. I like people in general. I love to banter with the audiences.

What would you tell others to encourage them to volunteer with CAPA as well?
They need to enjoy theatre and people. And throw in music and ballet, for that matter. It’s been a very rewarding experience for me. And you never get tired of it because there’s such a variety coming through all the theatres, not just the Ohio Theatre.

If you would like to join CAPA’s volunteer team and create some great memories of your own, contact Janet Rife at

volunteer@capa.com.