Jackman mingles with fans as Iowa theater reopens

Associated Press

IOWA FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Actor Hugh Jackman didn't just show up for Saturday night's reopening of the historic Metropolitan Theater in Iowa Falls. He and his family spent much of the day in the small community.

Jackman, his wife and children arrived in Iowa Falls on Saturday afternoon and went fishing at a city park before taking in festivities at the 114-year-old refurbished movie theater.

"I've never had my family with me on one of these. But it felt right here," Jackman said.

Jackman later greeted hundreds of people outside the theater, which was showing two of his movies, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/16PVXKL ). He even sang briefly at a city park.

About 300 seats were available inside the twin-screen theater. Tickets sold for $100 or through a raffle that raised money for a local hospital.

Jackman's invitation to Iowa came from John Whitesell, a retired attorney from Iowa Falls who bought and restored the theater. Whitesell's son is Jackman's agent.

The Australian actor's visit comes amid a promotional tour for his film, "Prisoners."

Jackman said he was intrigued by the story of Whitesell's decision to rescue the theater from bankruptcy, and then spend roughly $500,000 to renovate the building and install two digital projectors.

The theater was originally an opera house and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but had deteriorated before Whitesell bought it.

Whitesell said he had memories of the theater back to his childhood and he couldn't let it close.

"When a town loses its theater, that's a blow," Whitesell said. "I couldn't see that happen, not in my town."

Now, Jackman said, it's up to area residents to support the theater.

"Come to Iowa Falls to the theater at least once a week," he said.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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