A DRAMA OF TRANSFORMATION
Archer City’s Royal Theater wasn’t always the center of the theatrical arts in this Lakes Trail Region community. But it certainly has always been at the center of plenty of drama. The Royal is a star, made famous in Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show” where it’s façade served as stand-in for the fictional Royal Theater, social center of the film’s town (portrayed as Archer City) and, in closing down, symbolizing the end of a particular way of life in mid-century rural Texas. The movie character “Royal Theater” was portrayed by the spruced-up façade of the actual Royal Theater, at the time having already met its real demise, gutted by a fire in 1965, leaving it in ruins. Film crews restored the front of the theater to serve in scenes for the movie, an icon of 1970’s cinema set in Archer City, hometown of McMurtry. Despite the starring role, the theater remained nothing but a mere façade until the 1990s when Archer City citizens formed a foundation to return performances to the Royal Theater. The foundation used the Royal’s resurrection to create a performing arts center where, today, a robust season of theatrical productions takes to the stage. Musicals, dramas, and special holiday performances have brought the Royal back to life where the changing marque proudly announces once again - “Now Playing”.