The show will go on … in time

The Saguaro Theatre has been closed along with all movie theaters in Arizona due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, but the icon is going through significant changes in preparation for its reopening. 

By Shawn Byrne

Sun Editor

The marquee of the Saguaro Theatre currently reads “EXCITING CHANGES COMING,” and when the changes are completed and the occasion arises the doors will reopen for its customers to enjoy movies on the big screen.

The theatre is currently undergoing some remodeling, including a re-coating of the floor in the main seating area, the walls being repainted, and the exterior marquee will be modified. These are mild improvements and are not expected to change the basic look of the theatre but to make it cleaner and updated, according to a statement by Saguaro Theatre management.

What appears to be the most significant change is in ownership. The current owners – Tom Watt, Betty Watt, Bob Dunn, and Teresa Dunn – said the sale of the theatre to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum is in escrow and expected to close by the end of May.

“We didn’t operate it but leased it out,” Tom Watt told The Sun. “We wanted to wait (to sell) until after what we were doing there with the mural and everything else.”

Watt commissioned Kim Polomka of Colorado Springs to paint the mural on the east wall of the theatre facing Valentine Street. The owners also put in a small park with Marie Barbers’ sculpture “Wind on the Mesa” on loan from the museum, new benches, trees, cactus garden, and artificial grass in what was the vacant lot next to that side of the theatre

However, real estate transactions aren’t sales until escrow closes, and that goes the same for this deal.

“It’s under review by our trustees and there is no timetable for a decision,” said Katie Davidson, Desert Caballeros Western Museum’s marketing and membership manager.

Saguaro Theatre management said in its statement to The Sun it wants to show as many old, classic Western movies as it can. The tentative plan upon reopening is to present a first-run movie for a week or two and then follow that with a classic Western, alternating between each. The statement said there are many old cowboy movies from between the 1930s and 1960s that a lot of people have never seen or even heard about. By doing this, theatre management believes it will help emphasize the western feel of Wickenburg alongside the roping and other horse activities held here.

When the theatre reopens, it will present a “Classic Movie Night” once a week rather than the once a month it was doing before COVID-19 closed its doors. Theatre management wants to best serve the residents of Wickenburg and provide the service it is designed to deliver.

If DWCM and the current owners of the theatre building complete the their transaction, current Saguaro Theatre management would continue operating the business of the theatre. Any profits after maintenance, upgrades, and operations made from the theatre will be given to the museum for help with its programs.

A definitive date for reopening the Saguaro Theatre is unknown, but the statement did say it would reopen at the first opportunity after the remodeling is completed.

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