New season in Gladbrook

Theater and museum to open, Ruopp retires after 18 years

Retiring Gladbrook Theater and Matchstick Marvels manager JoAnn Ruopp (center) stands with newly promoted manager Renee Wright (left) and assistant manager Audra Siddell (right) in late March. Ruopp is holding a custom matchstick sculpture given to her as a retirement gift by local artist Pat Acton. Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

After a four month hiatus, the Gladbrook Theater and Matchstick Marvels museum are set to reopen in April.

Visitors will again be able to view local sculptor Pat Acton’s matchstick models at the Matchstick Marvels museum on April 1.

For the next two months the museum will be open from Thursday to Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. with hopes of moving to seven days a week after Memorial Day.

Acton plans to unveil a new space-theme model in the coming months. The date and time of the unveiling are still to be determined but Acton has said the piece will be based upon the NASA Perseverance rover that landed on Mars in mid-February.

Movie goers will have the opportunity to enjoy films at the Gladbrook Theater beginning on Friday, April 16.

Show times are scheduled Friday through Sunday at 7 p.m. with a matinee on Saturdays at 2 p.m.

The movie for the first week has not been announced yet but theater staff indicate the upcoming schedule will feature a mix of new releases and older releases with the hope of a return to a more normal movie release schedule in the summer.

For the time being, the theater and museum will require all visitors to wear a mask while inside the building.

For theater updates follow Gladbrook Theater on Facebook, visit them online at www.gladbrooktheater.com or call 641-473-2410.

Ruopp retires

After 18 years as the manager for Gladbrook’s movie theater and Matchstick Marvels museum, JoAnn Ruopp has retired at the end of March.

Assistant manager Renee Wright, who has been working with Ruopp for the past two years, will take over as manager. Joining her as assistant manager will be Audra Siddell of Gladbrook.

Ruopp has been a driving force for the attractions at the Gladbrook City Center since the facility opened in 2003. She took on the position with the city after spending time as a decorator with Home Interiors and as a receptionist for the McFarland Clinic in Toledo.

Ruopp remembers the theater’s first film, a showing of the movie musical “Chicago” in May of 2003. Not long after, the theater experienced its first sold out showing with the Pixar animated classic “Finding Nemo”.

Since that time the theater and museum have become an established tourist destination, drawing in an annual attendance of between 8,000 to 10,000 per year.

Ruopp played an integral role in the growth and success of the city center attractions, working diligently to spotlight Gladbrook as a tourist destination at travel centers and tourism conferences throughout the state.

“Since working here I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet and see a lot of Gladbrook residents that I might not have otherwise gotten to know,” Ruopp said. “I’ve learned a lot about the tourism industry over the years here and also about the movie industry.”

In her position Ruopp has been the chief coordinator for the movie theater operation which employs a small staff and a community volunteer base of close to 100 members.

Behind the scenes Ruopp says one of the biggest jobs she and the theater staff are tasked with is the cleaning and janitorial work needed to keep the theater and museum a safe and welcoming place.

In retirement Ruopp hopes to spend time at home with her family and eventually do some traveling once her husband retires.

On March 28 the theater hosted a retirement open house for Ruopp. At the event, Acton presented his longtime museum colleague with a custom matchstick sculpture of the Gladbrook Theater marquee.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone that attended last Sunday,” Ruopp said. “The cards, gifts, flowers and well wishes were a true blessing.”