A theater that has been a part of the Lawton community for more than half a century is fighting to keep its doors open.
The theater opened its doors back in 1948 and has been in operation since then, but the building the theater is in has been sold and the owner of is doing what he can to make sure the theater stays open for the next generation.
Justin Hackney started working at the Vaska Theatre in 2003 and has owned it for the last four years.
When the building came up for sale, he wanted to buy it to make sure the theater stayed open but originally he couldn’t.
“At the time I was thinking about it, but that exact weekend my wife had some serious medical problems and was hospitalized for a few days, so I told him no,” Hackney said. “He found a buyer for the building and made a deal. We closed up shop said goodbye and everything. It was one of those things, it was hard for us.”
Hackey did not want to see a building that had been a theatre for 70 years be anything besides that, so he is now working toward buying the building after all.
“We have secured the deal and the first payment comes up February first so that is fast coming especially for somewhere that doesn’t have any capital to work with,” Hackney said. “We are just trying to get back open, make that payment. Once we are open and make that payment I think we will be just fine. It’s just getting to that point.”
The Vaska is also the only original theater left in Lawton, making it a special place to moviegoers.
“We have our own actors that are acting out different parts throughout the theater during different times, messing with the audience or just various things that make it a different kind of experience,” Hackney said. “We have a lot of fun. It’s not the typical movie theater crowd where you are going to sit down and be quiet. We encourage people yelling dumb one-liners and having fun.”
There is still a lot of work to be done but with the help of the community, Hackney will be able to keep the Vaska Theatre open for the citizens of Lawton to enjoy for years to come.