Area theater named one of world's most spectacular - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Area theater named one of world's most spectacular

Menomonie (WQOW) - Being under the spotlight is nothing unusual for a theater. But recently, 15 theaters were deemed the world's most spectacular by CNN Travel. One of them is right here in Western Wisconsin.

The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts in Menomonie was built in memory of Mabel Tainter.  "She passed away at the age of 19 very unexpectedly. They think it was appendicitis. Her parents were grief stricken. Their Unitarian pastor suggested to them they build this facility in her honor and provide a lasting monument," explains Amy Reise, the Executive Director of Mabel Tainter.

A monument so grand, it has been named one of the world's 15 most spectacular theaters. Cindy Quilling, the President of the Board of Directors for the theater, says, "My reaction was like, really?! Did we like fill out a form or something?!"

Menomonie City Council President, Andrew Mercil, says, "It's a phenomenal honor for Menomonie to have such a jewel downtown be names one of the world's best theaters, on par with theaters in London, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney."

The theater has been a part of Menomonie's landscape for more than a century. But, back in the 1950's the city was considering tearing it down in order to make room for a parking lot. "The woman's group in the 1950's said no way; we're not tearing this down. And, they fought and were able to save the Mabel," explains Quilling.

Mercil says, "The fact that we could have lost the Mabel at any given point in time is scary. We are so blessed that members of this community stepped up and recognized the value that this theater has."

Since then, there have been a number of projects done to maintain its original beauty and bring it up to speed with modern necessities. Reise says, "The Mabel was in some disrepair prior to the renovation and addition."

"But, I don't think it changed at all the personality of our theater or the look and grandeur the theater has," explains Quilling. 

The theater's personality is one actors have been inspired by. Mercil says, "I grew up on the Mabel Tainter stage actually and have been in theaters throughout the world and there's no place quite like the Mabel."

Reise says, "We've been sort of the best kept secrets. Now that we're going to be known as one of the 15 most spectacular theaters in the world I would hope some bigger names would be willing to say they'd come play here, at an affordable ticket price to the community."

"I really hope that now that we're on this list it draws people in from all over, especially the country but also the world because no where can you get that small town atmosphere and such a beautiful experience at the same time," said Mercil.

CNN Travel highlights the theatre's stained glass windows, fireplaces, brass fixtures and water-powered pipe organ... Saying its inspiration could have come from a child's doll house.

The theater is operated as a non-profit and most of its expenses are paid for through community support.
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