By Howard Balaban
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — Tonight, provided the world is still spinning at that time, the Medina Theater will host the Mayan Three Step Band as part of the “Let’s Hope They’re Wrong Party Christmas Party.”
This event is one of several scheduled between now and 2013 at the revamped downtown Medina location. And the events all have one thing in common — Renee Schuner, Medina Theater event manager.
Schuner, a Medina native, spent the past 30 years in California, where she was the office administrator and manager of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. While holding that position in a church may not seem glamorous, the location of that church, directly across the street from California’s Capitol, was strategic.
“It led to a ton of events,” she said, recalling how a number of lobbying organizations used the facility.
Now, Schuner said she plans on using her experience to help bring in different levels of events to Theater for all age groups. Over the years, she made several trips a year back home to visit family in Medina. While back in Western New York for a reunion she ran into one of the theater’s owners, Joe Cardone. Cardone, Schuner and their siblings all grew up together.
“Joe gave me a tour of the place and told me what his vision was for it,” Schuner recalled. “His vision of what he wanted to do with the building and how he wanted to make it for the community was so intriguing to me.”
Conversations between the two eventually led to an exchange in which Cardone offered Schuner her current job.
“He said, ‘I’m looking for somebody to run this place for me,’...and it felt like a lifetime experience,” Schuner said.
Schuner added that had she passed up the opportunity, she likely would have looked back on it later in life with much regret.
With that in mind, she said she “seized” the chance to come home and help get the theater up and running again.
So far, the theater has been a bit of what some would call a quiet success story. Since September, it has been featured as part of Medina’s Ale in Autumn beer tasting tour and most recently provided a warm place for families with young children to visit Santa Claus during the Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration.
Schuner said there is definitely a buzz about the place.
“We were in here cleaning up over the summer and people would walk by and get excited,” she said, adding that when the opportunity presented itself some passersby were treated to a tour of the building.
Schuner mentioned that many who have visited reminisced about happy times they experienced as children and shared memories about events of years gone by.
“Their excitement is contagious,” she smiled.
Schuner said she thinks part of the excitement comes from what is going on in the Medina Business District.
“The revitalization of downtown...has been profound,” she said. “People are really thirsty for new things to do in Medina. They’d like to just come downtown and have the same choices they would have in Buffalo and Rochester.
“My goal is to bring those same caliber of events here.”
In addition to the Mayan celebration tonight, the Medina Theater is hosting multiple events before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. On Thursday, the theater is hosting local filmmaker Sam Qualiana and other local artists. Qualiana will be featuring his full length film “Snow Shark.”
Dec. 29 is the official Grand Opening of the theater. The event, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., features Frank Sinatra sound-alike Jack Civiletto. The theaters’ New Year’s Party begins at 7:30 p.m and has all the New Year’s requirements — food, party favors, dancing, and a chance to see the ball drop in Times Square.
There’s also the day-to-day operation of the theater.
“The Diana Lounge opens at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and on Fridays we offer dinner. We’re hoping to start opening for lunches soon,” she said.
Schuner added there are also plans in the works to do something with the Super Bowl. Other ideas she mentioned centered around events featuring a Mardi Gras theme, a Valentine’s Day theme, and a Caribbean theme, among others.
“This place has profound historic value to the people here, and it is just really good to see it running again,” she said.
For more information on upcoming Medina Theater events, call 318-5093.