by Joe Tennis
Rita Hayworth starred in the first movie shown at the Moonlite Drive-In Theatre along U.S. 11 between Abingdon and Bristol, Virginia. It was 1949’s “Down to Earth.”
For the next few decades, the Moonlite survived as a nostalgic throwback—until the owner put it up for sale in 2015. The screen stayed dark until the COVID-19 pandemic brought this historic landmark back to life.
The coronavirus had shuttered the nearby Barter Theatre in Abingdon, but Katy Brown, the Barter’s producing artistic director, ushered in a new age for both theaters by staging live productions of “The Wizard of Oz” plus “Beauty and the Beast,” with accompanying action on the screen and broadcasts on car radios.
Now, the show goes on with Christmas productions in November and December.
“We are going to decorate with lights and a tree, and make it an incredibly festive place to come out and celebrate the holidays,” Brown says.
“Dracula” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” both run through Nov. 11. “A Christmas Carol” runs Nov. 20-Dec. 23. “Frosty” runs Nov. 27-Dec. 23.