Hundreds show up to support Byrd Theatre

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A sold out crowd is pretty rare at the Byrd Theatre these days, but one is very much needed.  Monday night, that crowd gave the Richmond landmark a shot in the arm.

The Byrd raked in more than $14,000 during Monday night's showing of a campy 80's movie, which was shot here in Richmond.

"Rock 'n' Roll Hotel" is the best worst movie you've never seen.

"I describe this movie as a cross between 'Grease' and 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' and then take it down a couple notches in quality," said Style Weekly editor Jason Roop, who helped organize the event.

For an 18 year old Patricia Claytor, shooting this movie at the Jefferson Hotel was one of the best times of her life.  That's when she met a young Judd Nelson in his first starring role.

"He took me on a ride on his motorcycle and asked me if I wanted to be an extra and I said 'sure,'" explained Claytor.  "It was a wonderful experience. I got to be an extra and we got to be good friends."

Claytor couldn't believe her eyes when she read the movie would have a Richmond premiere as a fundraising event for a city landmark.

The evidence of a recent break-in, in which thieves kicked in the theater doors is now gone, but that, combined with troubled fundraising efforts, have left the Byrd in dire financial straits.

Monday night, Richmonders showed that just wasn't OK with them.  More than 800 people came out in support.

"I've heard stories of my parents going to see movies here and I think even my grandparents," said Renee Pearson.  "I'd like to keep those family stories alive."

And that's the goal of "Save the Byrd."

"What this allows the Byrd Foundation to do is to take this excitement and this enthusiasm for this landmark and go to their corporate sponsors and say look how the community cares about the Byrd," said Roop.

Volunteers hope that enthusiasm will continue.  They're working on some projects to help the theater raise money year round.

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