Initially made famous by Archer City native and Oscar winner Larry McMurtry's novel The Last Picture Show, the Royal Theater has gained a reputation for a center of performing arts in North Texas.
The theater has deep roots in Archer City history. Many share fond memories of the theater as a childhood hang-out when it was in operation as the local movie theater. However, a fire gutted the building in 1965, and the building was left in ruins for many years.
Around 1990, a “think tank” meeting was called among the Archer City leaders to discuss ideas for improving the quality of life of citizens in the area. After several hours of good ideas duly posted on the dry erase board, one continued to rear its head — to rebuild the Royal Theater.
In 1995, Abby Abernathy was pursuing a career in the entertainment industry while living in New York City. A request was made for his return and on December 7, 1996, REBURTH (Rebuilding the Royal Theater) was launched.
After two years of producing quality productions, selling out show after show in the humble vacant White’s Auto Store, area foundations took notice.
The Royal Theater, now refurbished, and (right) shortly after the fire in 1965.
The theater was made famous by the 1971 Academy Award winning film, "The Last Picture Show," based on the novel by Archer City's own Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize winner for "Lonesome Dove." The movie launched Cybil Shephard's career in film.
The feature films "The Last Picture Show" and "Texasville" both spent considerable money and effort to prop the old gal up for their filming purposes. The Royal was in a completely dilapidated state.
The Meadows, Priddy and Bridwell foundations recognized our success and came forth with the capital needed to begin the construction process. Other local donors were ticket buyers and our champion, Louise Thomas and the Thomas family.
After 17 months of serious, tenacious work, the Royal Theater was reopened after 35 years of darkness. The theater has continuously proven itself as a regional leader with quality talent and productions.