MILLVILLE - The ghoulish face Nathan Caspar, 4, of Millville, got for free from professional face painter Jessica Slater was worthy of a stage performer.
That was appropriate, because he and sisters, Mackenzie, 6, and Haley, 7, were at a party on the 100 block of High Street with dad Kyle Caspar to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the opening of the renovated Levoy Theater on High Street.
"The City of Millville hired me to do face painting for free," said Slater, owner of Fantastic Faces, of Millville, working under an outdoor tent as a line of children waited their turn.
Stores and nonprofit groups had booths on the street, which was closed to vehicles. Millville Library Director Irene Percelli gave away new children's books provided by First Publishing, which held a contest in which the New Jersey Library Association came in second, enabling the group to give 14,000 books to needy children.
The Levoy was built in 1908 as a vaudeville theater, expanded in the 1910s and 1920s, and turned into a movie theater that closed in the 1970s. Then it stood vacant for 40 years, until a major makeover allowed it to reopen in 2012, said Phillip Van Embden, the Millville attorney who helped lead the rebirth of the Levoy and is interim chairman of the nonprofit Levoy Theater Preservation Society board of directors.
The day started a little slow at 11 a.m., but crowds built by 1 p.m., especially in front of the theater, where there was a long line for the free concert by the U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers Chorus.
Craig and Teresa Dick, of Millville, were among those hoping to see the field band, which they first saw when son Joseph Ippolito was in the Army. "It just made you feel so darned good," Teresa Dick said of the performance. Her son is out of the armed forces after serving in Iraq and Korea, she said.
Van Embden said the theater brought 40,000 people through its shows this year.
"We'd love to see two to three times as many people a year," he said. "As we develop, we'll get larger every year."
Artist Mary Ellen Keller and friend Christine Woods, both of Millville, were shopping at the newly opened Downtown Fashion Resale shop across from the theater, and said they felt optimistic about the Levoy's future.
"I saw Hall & Oates there," Woods said. Keller said the variety of acts appeal to a lot of people.
The theater was booked full with 175 shows in its inaugural year, said Operations Director Vincent Bianca. The Off Broad Street Players of Bridgeton is based there, and national acts come through regularly.
The Cumberland Players did seven shows of "Les Miserables" this year. Tracy Morgan and Josh Blue played there in August and September, and Kathleen Madigan will be there Oct. 17. October shows include Off Broad Street Players' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Oct. 18 through Oct. 20.
The Off Broad Street Players' will perform "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" Nov. 15 to 17 and Nov. 21 to 24; and the group's 2014 season includes "Grease Is Still the Word!," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown The Musical!," The King and I" "The Last Romance," "Oliver!" and "Maruice Sendak's Really Rosie."
Visit levoy.net or call 856-327-6400.
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Red Cross volunteers Ron Franceschini and Cathy Gardner gave information on disaster preparation.
Van Embden was selling $5 raffle tickets to win a 2013 Kia Soul, with a retail value of $17,300. The winner will be drawn during Millville's "Soul of the Season" celebration 9 p.m. Dec. 14, and proceeds will go to the theater's general fund. RK Kia of Vineland is helping underwrite the fundraiser, he said.
"Tickets are usually $100 each for a car raffle, and that eliminates a good chunk of the population," Van Embden said. "This way everybody gets a chance."