By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — AuSABLE FORKS — Local vocalist Susan Richards will give voice to the plight of independent theaters in the digital age with a performance this Sunday.
And actor James Tolkan of “Back to the Future” fame will also help the Hollywood Theatre to stay alive.
Proceeds from “A Tribute to the Classics,” a musical salute to a selection of great American film soundtracks, will go toward purchase of a digital movie projector that the Hollywood needs in order to stay in business.
The show will feature clips from some of America’s favorite films throughout the years and a musical performance of various soundtracks performed by Richards, accompanied by Eric Klotzo.
Richards, a native of Keeseville and currently a resident of the Town of Jay, has performed with Tony and Emmy Award winner and star of Broadway George Hearn and his wife, Leslie Hearn, in such productions as “Chicago,” “Mame” and “South Pacific.”
She has entertained audiences throughout the North Country with her vocal talents, including appearances at the JEMS Coffeehouse.
Tolkan, a Lake Placid resident, played Principal Strickland in the “Back to the Future” film series and Stinger in “Top Gun.”
He will sign autographs before Sunday’s fundraiser.
Tickets for the event are $20 per person with all of the proceeds donated to the Hollywood Theatre for use in the ongoing campaign to “Go Digital or Go Dark.”
“Recent mandates from distributors have forced small independent theaters to complete a digital upgrade by the end of 2013,” a press release explained. “Films will no longer be available for showing in 35mm format, but will be shipped to theaters on hard drives.”
Conversion costs $50,000 or more, and some local theaters have been forced to close.
When Richards heard of the situation Hollywood Theatre owners Corey Hanf and Sierra Serino were facing “it became obvious that I had to do something,” she said.
And after brainstorming with Jay colleague Carol Greenley, they came up with A Tribute to the Classics.
“I have had such loving support from the community every time I have appeared in concert or in a local theater production that I felt that I could give back to the community by offering to do this fundraising event in order to keep the doors to the Hollywood open for business,” Richards said in the release.
“From working in the Town of Jay Supervisor’s Office, I learned firsthand after the devastation of Hurricane Irene that the strength of this community is seen most clearly at a time like this.
“When one family is facing a hardship, everyone comes together to lend time, talent or monetary contributions.”
The Hollywood is among a dozen in the North Country Theater Alliance, which has applied to Empire State Development Corp. for a $3.1 million grant to purchase digital projection equipment.
Go Digital or Go Dark launched a series of fundraisers such as the one coming up in AuSable Forks.
“The call to save the theater is one that I don’t take lightly,” Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said in a news release.
“The Hollywood is not only an integral part of our Main Street Revitalization Plan but also a beloved gathering place for families and friends, locals and tourists alike.”
As of Wednesday, 80 tickets had been reserved so far for the benefit.
Tolkan will sign autographs from 6:30 to 7 p.m., with the show slated to begin at 7 p.m. with a few words from Hanf and Serino.
For advance tickets, call the Hollywood at 647-5953.
There is limited seating, Douglas said, so those wishing to attend should reserve their seats as soon as possible.
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