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Beverly Theater ready to shine in downtown Las Vegas

Beverly Rogers is eager to receive customer reviews of her namesake theater.

“We want feedback from people. We want them to share their thoughts,” Rogers says of The Beverly Theater, opening this weekend in downtown Las Vegas. “We want it to be the people’s theater, if you will. We want there to be true community ownership.”

So, if you want to see something, say something.

“If there’s a certain genre of film that we’ve completely missed, or if you see a niche we’re not filling within the confines of what we’re doing, we’d like you to tell us,” says Rogers, who chairs The Rogers Foundation, which has funded the new film house and performance theater next to The Writer’s Block bookstore. “We want to know what we can add. We want you to tell us if we could live without something.”

Its art house vision navigated by Creative Director and Chief Experience Officer Kip Kelly, The Beverly is establishing unique programming under the titles Lit (literature), Live (live entertainment) and Film (emphasis on independent filmmaking). The Rogers Foundation’s mission is to present “uncommon cinematic, literary and live experiences.”

The 146-seat theater opens Friday with an invitation-only, VIP screening of the romance film “Past Lives,” which has screened at Sundance. The documentary “Apollo 11” is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in the theater’s first public screening.

A schedule of events in the Lit series, a partnership with The Writer’s Block and UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. There will be book readings, author Q&A sessions, discussions, including novelist Walter Kirn in conversation with Native American fiction writer Sterling HolyWhiteMountain, BMI’s presentation of award-winning writer Percival Everett and readings from BMI Fellows.

Las Vegas hip-hop artist Ekoh kicks off the live music series at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The second-level Segue hang is a complement to programming in the main theater. This is where we hang before or after shows, and it will also host a variety of live music acts (go to TheBeverlyTheater.com for the full schedule).

Rogers has defined The Beverly Theater as Las Vegas’ only art house. She’ll get no debate from the president of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Myron Martin.

“I think that Beverly and her team are offering something brand new to the community, something that’s needed, which is a place for independent film, for writers to lecture and talk about what they are working on,” Martin says. “It fills a void in Las Vegas. I’m really happy they are doing this.”

Rogers says customer feedback will help steer The Beverly’s evolving vision as the venue moves into a regular schedule.

“We need people to come in and use it,” Rogers says of the two-story, 14,306-square-foot Beverly, where construction began last fall. “We have done a lot of work to make something that is very pretty. But it’s not just there to look pretty. It’s there to be a functioning art house.”

Kelly is ready, even though he can always use more time to tinker.

“Would I like three more months to work on things? Sure. But we are ready to be open,” Kelly says. “There is nothing blocking us from being 100 percent ready. We’ve been running tech all week and all month — tech week has turned into tech month — working on all the bells and whistles we’ve been bragging about. But I think we’re pleasantly surprised at what we’ve done.”

The Rogers Foundation was established to carry the legacy of late media magnate, education advocate and philanthropist Jim Rogers. The longtime owner of Sun Belt Communications’ 14 TV stations, including KVBC (now KSNV), Channel 3, donated an estimated $275 million to universities in the West.

The Rogers Foundation has given nearly $90 million in educational programs since its inception in 2015.

Rogers was also a film buff, especially fond of Westerns. Beverly Rogers remembers meeting many famous film figures over the years through her husband’s fascination with the culture. His office at Channel 3 was decorated with film posters and memorabilia collected over the years.

“We sponsored the Lone Pine Film Festival for years,” Rogers says of the event near the Sierra Nevada in California. “Jim was a film nut for many years.”

Asked how her late husband would feel about The Beverly Theater, Rogers says, “I think he would love it. I think he would be really delighted.”

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John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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