OkTENberfest
Korn plays the Wellmont Theater to an enthusiastic crowd. COURTESY GEORGE WIRT/THE WELLMONT THEATER

OkTENberfest
Saturday, Oct. 27, 1-6 p.m.

Food, more than 40 beers and brews, photo booth, and more.
The Wellmont encourages attendees to bring a non-perishable food donation to benefit the Human Needs Food Pantry of Montclair. With each bag of five items donated, patrons will receive a free ticket to an upcoming Wellmont show. Donations of more than 20 items will enter guests into a raffle for two tickets to a show of choice.

The Wellmont is releasing a portion of tickets for its remaining 2018 shows for just $10.
The event is free.

The Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St.
Wellmonttheater.com

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

The Wellmont Theater has been a fixture in Montclair for a long, long time.

So when you say it is hosting a 10-year anniversary on Oct. 27, you might get a raised eyebrow.

But it was on Oct. 27, 2008 that the venue reopened, following a multimillion dollar renovation, as a live venue. This Oct. 27, the Wellmont will host OkTENberfest, a free open house, to celebrate.

The venue first opened in 1922 as a home for vaudeville acts and live theater. Charlie Chaplin performed there. Thomas Edison attended movies there.

It was named for the theater manager, H.H. Wellenbrick, and the town of Montclair.

Eventually, live acts and live music stopped performing there. “I’ve lived in Montclair since 2002, and the first time I went to the Wellmont it was still a multiplex movie house with sticky floors,” said Montclair Film Founder and Chairman of the Board Bob Feinberg.

Today it is a 2,500-seat live event venue.

“OkTENberfest” will be a  party with food, beer, photo booths, backstage tours and games. Many upcoming acts are also releasing tickets for $10 in celebration of the Wellmont’s anniversary.

“The party is for everyone that’s really supported us over the last 10 years as a venue,”

OkTENberfest
Anthony J. Morrison talks about the Wellmont, in Pharmacie. DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI/STAFF

said Wellmont General Manager Anthony J. Morrison.  

While he spoke, a stage crew set up for the Alt Rock band Modest Mouse. The venue hosts classic rock, rap, children’s acts, comedy, and also hosts rentals, including Montclair Film Festival.

A non-denominational church, Hillsong, meets at the venue every Sunday.

The Wellmont is “so much of the fabric of the community,” Feinberg said.

OkTENberfest
BOB FEINBERG

He pointed out that Montclair Film was at the Wellmont even before the launch of the festival. Jonathan Alter was in conversation with Stephen Colbert in the autumn of 2011. “[Colbert] was still doing the Colbert Report,” Feinberg said. “It was a unique opportunity to see not only the character [Stephen played on Comedy Central], but Stephen Colbert. The proceeds from that first event gave us the opportunity to launch.” MFF launched in the spring of 2012.

Today, the MFF fundraisers are too big for the Wellmont, and are held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

But MFF opening nights outgrew the Kasser Theater and are held at the Wellmont now, Feinberg said.

And Feinberg has made note of the renovations that the Wellmont’s owners have continued to make. This past winter, the Wellmont opened a restaurant, with a liquor licence, called the Pharmacie, offering handcrafted cocktails.

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The original Wellmont also had a Pharmacie which was not a prescription drug shop, but a soda parlor, Morrison said.

The new restaurant has a vintage, art deco feel to it, with black and white tiles and fixtures.

“I have to say there’s a majesty, gravitas, sense of history at the Wellmont that I think is fantastic,” Feinberg said.

But a real thrill is when he walks onstage to welcome the audience to the opening of the Montclair Film Festival. “When I look out and see that incredible balcony, and orchestra, that’s always filled… it’s majestic.”