The Tally Ho Theatre in downtown Leesburg is one of the last “old school” cinemas in our area, and kept itself afloat with comedy and variety shows in addition to movies. But Hollywood’s shift to digital projection for films is just too much for the 81-year-old theater, and so its operators announced Wednesday it will close on Labor Day.
“This was looming for awhile,” said Dave Wright, operations manager of Market Street Productions, which ran the Tally Ho but does not own the building. “We’re proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish here,” notably the Last Ham Standing improv comedy show, which was a popular monthly event and is going to continue at Purcellville’s Franklin Park Arts Center starting Sept. 21.
Since Wright’s group took over the Tally Ho in 2008, with partners David Sly and Steve Heaton, they also featured $1 kids movies in the summer, Friday Night Live, musical performances, Halloween festivities and $3 Thursday programs. “It’s bittersweet,” Wright said. “We put our blood, sweat and tears into this place,” and it had built up a loyal following. The theater opened in 1931, was closed between 1999 and 2002, and has been showing first-run movies for the past 10 years. Converting to digital projection would have required about $120,000, a tough investment when you don’t own the building, Wright said.
The Tally Ho will continue with movies and live shows until its final show Sept. 3, Wright said. “So we aren’t leaving the community without anything to do for the summer,” he said.