Island Spotlight: Joe Hale of the Dreamland Theater

This week we speak with Dreamland’s Executive Director, Joe Hale about Nantucket’s film and Cultural Center, Dreamland. Dreamland is truly an island treasure that brings so much joy to our community year round. This state-of-the-art complex features a 314 seat Main Theater along with flexible meeting and theater space in the Studio Theater and a beautiful Harborview Room. Dreamland also hosts films during the annual Nantucket Film Festival.

Can You Give Us a Brief History of Dreamland Theater?

Joe Hale: The Dreamland’s building goes back to 1831, when it served as a Quaker Meeting House. Since then, it’s functioned as a straw-hat factory, a Redman’s Hall, a roller-skating rink, and finally in 1910, a silent movie house. The Dreamland closed in 2006 when it was purchased for redevelopment. Luckily, that plan was unsuccessful, and a generous group of donors purchased the building and land and began a major renovation to give us the state-of-the-art cultural center we all enjoy today. It reopened to the public in 2012.

What are Some of Your Favorite Events that Have Happened at Dreamland?

Joe Hale: There are too many to count! The Dreamland is the only Nantucket cultural organization open 365 days a year. In addition to first run and award winning independent and foreign films daily, we’ve created scores of other events. We produce Dreamland Conversations hosted by board member David Gregory that has featured such luminaries as Leslie Stahl, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Maureen Orth. We’ve organized programs ranging from our annual community talent show – Nantucket’s Got Talent! to Our Summer Decks DJ Series to outstanding performances by talent such as The Vienna Boys Choir and Broadway star Audra McDonald. But my FAVORITE event at The Dreamland has to be our annual DreamBeliever Celebration, our annual fundraiser. A seasoned veteran of fundraisers around the world said “The DreamBelievers Celebration is the best party – ever!” I agree!

Is The Dreamland the Only Public Theater on the Island and What was the First Movie to Ever Show at the Theater?

Joe Hale: The Dreamland is the only public movie theater on Nantucket. Here’s an advertisement (see above) from the Inky Mirror about some of the earliest films at The Dreamland. It’s from 1910!

Can You Tell Us About the New Drive-In theater you are Launching this Summer?

Joe Hale: We are SO excited about The Dreamland Drive-In! Think about it – this could possibly be the only place on island this summer where we can gather together, albeit apart! We should have The Dreamland Drive-In up and running around the end of June. With only 80 spots, this entertainment option will be a sell-out for sure. And hopefully this summer we’ll also be able to open The Dreamland downtown in a safe and responsible way. We’re also exploring converting our spectacularly beautiful Harborview Room, overlooking the harbor, into the Harborview Lounge, with sundown cocktails being offered each evening.

Can You Tell Us a Fun or Interesting Fact/Story that Comes Out of Dreamland?

Joe Hale: I know we’re supposed to be cool and unimpressed on Nantucket, but when you occasionally see Michael Douglas or Meryl Streep or Robert De Niro or Damien Lewis or Drew Barrymore or Gina Davis, or Bill Belichick in the lobby buying popcorn, I must admit, it IS kinda cool………..

Okay, We Must Ask, What Are Your Top Three Favorite Movies?!

Empire of the Sun

A Trip to Bountiful

and the next movie I’m going to watch!

Thanks, Joe! We are really looking forward to the Drive-In theater and for more information on this new project please visit HERE

Joe Hale
A crowd of people in front of Dreamland
Saturday night at the Dreamland

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