November 29, 2022

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Liberty County’s ‘Last Picture Show’ closing, will become concert venue

The historic Texan Theater, located at 102 E. Houston St. in Cleveland, was once called the Texas Theater. The theater first opened around 1933 and was owned by John G. Long of Bay City, Texas.

By Vanesa Brashier,

After an 89-year run, the Texan Theater in Cleveland will cease operations as a movie theater on Sept. 8. The historic theater, the last of its kind still open in Liberty County and recognized with a Liberty County Historical Commission marker on May 15, 2021, has been negatively impacted by the changes in movie-viewing habits in recent years and the arrival of multiplex theaters in neighboring communities.

Instead of shuttering the building or gutting it for offices or retail space, the Texan Theater has found new life as a concert venue. Tarkington resident Curt Smith, owner of Pineywoods Rooters Entertainment and Promotions, has inked a deal with the building’s owner, and Smith and his business partner, Aaron Holmes, plan to offer live music and comedy shows while keeping the building’s authentic, historic charm.

“PWR is proud to make this happen in such a historical theater, something that has been done in cities all over Texas and beyond. Huntsville, Conroe and Houston are just a few that have transitioned the same way. All of these venues have had great success and are a fun place to go for events,” said Smith.

Changes will be minor, mostly to create VIP seating in the balcony area and in the first three rows of the lower level. The theater can accommodate up to 265 people – 65 on the upper level and 200 on the lower level, and because the theater is small, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. A storage room behind the stage will be outfitted as a greenroom where artists can relax before and after a show.

“We at PWR are delighted to keep the Texan Theater in its original state. It has been a staple in the city and county since 1939. We are honored to take over operations and turn this into an event hall for everyone to enjoy for years to come,” Smith said.

Smith and Holmes started PWR Entertainment and Promotions in January 2022 with a headquarters at 130 College St., Cleveland. In that short period of time, the company has grown rapidly with PWR now handling live music shows for restaurants in Houston, Conroe, Cleveland and the surrounding areas. The company represents multiple music artists and offers a recording studio. Smith calls PWR a “one-stop shop” in the music industry.

“Normally, in the music industry, you will find a management company, a booking company, a promotions company and a recording studio all doing different things for a music artist. We have slimmed it down where we have all the need,” he said. “When I talk to other music industry-related companies, they are like, ‘You do all of that?’ Yes, we do,” Smith said. “It makes it easier on the artist. We don’t have to outsource anything. We can do everything right here.”

As PWR has found a unique niche in the music industry and developed an extensive portfolio of music artists, Smith believes he will have no trouble drawing both artists and music fans to the Texan Theater.

“With all the venues for which we manage the entertainment, we’ve always envisioned expanding the entertainment promotions side and giving the artists another place to play. How do we create more for Cleveland? Cleveland doesn’t always have the best reputation, even in the music industry. People think it’s all about Conroe or Houston, but we are going to change that,” Smith said.

Smith is counting on Cleveland and East Montgomery County one day being recognized as a tremendous pool of musical talent.

The grand reopening of the new PWR Texan Theater will be on Nov. 5, 2022. The goal is to hold shows on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Show times are expected to be at 7 p.m. nightly with after-parties held at a local restaurant on Saturday nights.

“We are looking at putting in a Cleveland Comedy Night on Tuesdays. We even have local talent who can perform. Robby Koon, who owns Bailey’s Barbecue, and his brother do a hour-long comedy skit,” Smith said. Artist spotlight nights will be planned on the other nights.

“It will be a good time and it will be great for this area,” he said.

News of the change for the theater caught city leaders off guard this week. The theater has been a vital part of the community for generations. Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett said he understands that a one-screen theater is no longer a money-making proposition.

“I wish it could stay a theater. I will be sad to see it go in another direction but I hope PWR has a lot of success with it. Hopefully they will offer shows that will be good for families. I wish them all the luck with it,” Boyett said.

Like many others, Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Victoria Good has memories of going to the theater as a child with her parents and more recently taking her own children.

“I had my first kiss there. I am sure a lot of people did. Cleveland was blessed to have had an affordable theater in town, giving families and kids something to do for years and year. As the Chamber, it’s always sad to see any business close because we want all of our area businesses to succeed, but it will be cool to see this Cleveland treasure turn into a music venue for people to enjoy for even more years to come,” she said.

For more updates on their plans and to keep up with upcoming shows, follow PWR on Facebook.

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