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Owners hope for sequel for theater

Golden Valley News of Beach, North Dakota

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The owners of the Bijou Show-House have put the property up for sale.

Emanuel Culman and his wife, Cheryl Planert, purchased the property, which includes office spaces for other businesses, from Margaret Walz in February 2007. However, toward the end of 2010, the weekly schedule at the Bijou was discontinued because audience numbers continued to drop, "despite playing recent releases and choosing some of the best movies available," a 2010 announcement from the theater said.

Culman said in 2010 that it was time to change the direction of how the Bijou was being operated. The idea was to offer the facility for private rental, and events such as live concerts, birthday parties and other types of entertainment, such as playing video games on the Bijou's 12-by-24 screen.

But the new direction didn't pan out.

"It took a lot of creativity and energy, which I ran out of," said Culman. He has been dealing with the effects of Parkinson's disease. The facility needs active operators, he said.

Equipment in the theater was purchased with a $98,000 grant, but the equipment continues to be owned by Beach-based Prairie West Development. It may be that a new buyer would purchase the building and the equipment but that's more of a "logistical problem," as Culman described it. A possibility is that the equipment would be sold separately, which would defunct the operating abilities of the Bijou, said Culman.

Vanessa Ueckert, deputy director of Prairie West, said there have been discussions of the Bijou's sound system going to the new Beach Evangelical Church, and that the lighting would go to the Beach School District, or that someone could buy all the equipment together.

Culman said ideally he would like to see the Beach School District use the theatre, but he's not in a position to donate the building.

"We'd love it to remain as an operating theater," he said.

Culman and Planert are also selling the former Seventh-Day Adventist Church in southwest Beach, which they had purchased and used for business purposes.

The former church is listed at $126,000, while the theater is listed for $225,000, by Home and Land Company.

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Original Publication Date: April 9, 2015

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