COZAD—A historic opera house in Cozad, Neb. will once again be an entertainment venue with the addition of the Fox Theater. For the last few years, the Cozad Development Corporation (CDC) has been conducting community needs surveys and working to bring a three-screen movie theater to town. Owners of the Tiffany Theater in Broken Bow will operate the theater following the CDC’s efforts to renovate and own the Allen Opera House.
The Tiffany Theater is currently co-owned by Stuart and Cindy Fox, Tania Kreitman, Penny Goodman, and Kyle Stringham, with the Fox family having been involved in the theater since 2003. Watch the Fox, LLC will soon be rolling out a new website as it prepares to operate both Fox Theaters, with the Tiffany Theater seeing a name change in the near future.
Stuart Fox and Tiffany Theater Manager Tania Kreitman both told KCNI/KBBN that Cozad Development Corporation Executive Director Jennifer McKeone has been amazing to work with in bringing the theater to Cozad, applying for grants, and working with area businesses for sponsorships.
“It’s really important to have the sponsorships, to have the grants. It’s going to be a first class operation and they’re going to have the nicest theater around! I always say Broken Bow is one of the nicest theaters around. It’s really nice but I think this one might be just a notch above!” Stuart Fox told KCNI/KBBN.
According to a press release from the CDC, things were going well until COVID-19 presented obstacles for fundraising and renovations. However, community families, individuals, and businesses have sponsored the theaters, seats, and community room.
“Projects like this always require a lot of blind faith that you can meet your fundraising goals, but this has not been the best year for fundraising, movies, or timelines. I was beginning to panic we wouldn’t make our goal,” McKeone said regarding funds received from the Home Agency & BHA Real Estate.
The Fox Theater in Cozad will be similar to the Tiffany Theater but rather than undergoing multiple remodels through the years, theater leadership has been working to create their vision all at once. Demolition and construction began in early 2020 with a virtual tour video released in February. COVID-19 slowed down construction due to supply issues, but Fox and Kreitman said they are in the process of buying the projection and sound equipment, concession equipment, seating, and everything needed to make the Fox Theater a state-of-the-art facility.
While the timeline for opening the theater remains uncertain, Fox said he thinks it could be the spring before the movie business is back to “normal.”
“The main reason is there’s just no content. Hollywood keeps pushing things back further and further or they release on streaming and so we’re an industry that we’re at the mercy of other people to provide us content. We’ve been able to stay open here in Broken Bow with older films, sponsorships and that. But the plan in Cozad would be to open when we do have new content. We’re kind of at the mercy of the studios and it’s all dependent upon COVID,” Fox said.
Tania Kreitman said she is grateful the Tiffany was able to re-open its doors in June following coronavirus shutdowns by offering concessions such as popcorn to-go and sponsored movies.
“We couldn’t have done it without business sponsorship. The community came out and has helped us out immensely,” Kreitman said.
She will help oversee staffing at the Cozad theater and said she loves the excitement of people coming to the movies and looks forward to helping Cozad grow and growing central Nebraska all together.
“Being in a small town and having an entertainment opportunity, something to do. You know, it’s an escape for two hours. I’d be sad if this community didn’t have a theater and I think it also encourages young families to come back,” Kreitman continued.
“My sincere gratitude for both communities. Broken Bow, you know, help keeping us afloat this year and then the Cozad community. We had a business after hours there back in February that was insane! I think the whole town was there. They’re very excited, we’re excited to keep the theater open here and we’re excited to provide them with the same great entertainment value and excitement that we have here,” Kreitman said.
Stuart Fox echoed his appreciation to the community in keeping movie magic alive!
“I appreciate all of the community support that we’ve had. We can’t do it without the support. We’ve been surviving through having businesses sponsor and of course the advertisers. Without their help, we wouldn’t have a theater here. That support is necessary in good times and so you can imagine in bad times like right now how important that is. We continue to operate–a lot of theaters have shut down in the country–but we’re determined to stay open until new content comes back out so thanks for everybody’s support,” Fox said.
According to an August 2019 post from the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, the Allen Opera House was built in 1906 for Charles E. Allen. Allen was a business man and banker who co-owned the Cozad State Bank and the Allen’s General Store, which were located on the first floor of the opera house building, the Facebook post continued. The opera house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The CDC purchased the opera house with Executive Director Jennifer McKeone leading the charge in fundraising efforts by applying for grants and reaching out to local businesses for sponsorships.