The Heat (and Great Films) Must Go On at the Jane Pickens!

Kara Malkovich, Kathy Staab, Natasha Harrison,

Federico Santi

Baby, it’s cold outside!


The Jane Pickens Theater & Events Center is one of Newport’s beloved historical institutions (and now the only cinema located downtown.)  Its mission is to show “the best movies available, movies that are hand-selected to play to the discriminating taste of our audience.”


But the venerable venue has a problem: As Newporters are all too acutely aware, these New England winters can add up to some chilling numbers when we open our monthly heating bills. Imagine, then, what it would take to heat the vast amount of space inside a theater built in a centuries-old building…

Tom Cahill & Maura Lindsay

In a building originally designed by architect Russell Warren and built in 1834 as a church, The Jane Pickens has served continuously as a theater since 1919.

Many would like it to continue to be a theater, as evidenced by an eager turnout at Vanderbilt Hall for a pre-show VIP cocktail party, part of a film screening event titled “The Heat Must Go On!” organized by the Friends of the Jane Pickens Theater non-profit group. The theater needs a replacement heating system, as well as new “green” insulation, adding up to the tune of about $50,000. The event sought to defray these costs.

Newly restored in 2009, the feel of  Vanderbilt Hall's Monty's lounge,( a short stroll from the Pickens,) is both cozy and classic, graced by elegant hardwood accents and a stunning assortment of fabulous early 20th century artwork, hand-picked from the American Museum of Illustration Art on Bellevue Avenue. Heat was not an issue at Vanderbilt, thanks to a lusty fire roaring inside of the gargantuan fireplace with “ALVA” (for Alva Vanderbilt) painted in gold letters on its mantel.


Outside the theater

Tasty hors d’oeuvres were passed with pomegranate fruit drinks in little glasses. Guests arrived throughout the evening, filling up the space nicely without causing it to feel overcrowded. Many arrived wearing red, gold, and other festive colors in anticipation of the holidays, and several showed their support by wearing large blue buttons - theater owner Kathy Staab among them.


Emlen Drayton shared some of Vanderbilt Hall’s scandalous history with Newport Seen, relaying that Alfred Vanderbilt had originally built it to house his mistress in 1909 (she must have required an inordinate amount of living space, Newport Seen thinks!) and was later forced by his disapproving family to release it for other uses.


Bertie & Andy MacGowan, Kathy Staab

As cocktail hour neared its end, Friends of Jane Pickens Board Chair Holly Grosvenor announced that the party was moving on to the theater down the street. VIP guests had their own special entrance to the night’s film, Last Play at Shea, “a documentary chronicling the history of two New York icons - Billy Joel and Shea Stadium, and… narrated by Alec Baldwin, with flashbacks to Paul McCartney, Roger Daltry, Steven Tyler and more!”


Artist Janice Lee Kelly had constructed two balloon sculptures; massive curlicues of red and yellow lines with black and white googly eyes, looking like curious creatures floating above the lobby and beneath the marquee. Michael Jazz delighted guests with his piano stylings in the theater lobby.
For more information on supporting heat for the Jane Pickens Theater, go www. or


                                                        --Amanda M. Grosvenor


Margot Grosvenor, Aline Glorieux, Holly Grosvenor,

Dick Grosvenor

Gorgeous fireplace

Live music at an incredible piano

Brian Hennessey & Belinda Nattress

Dick Grosvenor, Mary Clare O'Grady, Eric Hovermale,

Maura Lindsay

Laurie Moore, Judy Berger, Maura Lindsay

Enjoying the party

Stella Martin & Laurie Moore

Holly Grosvenor announces that the party is

moving to the theater

Teddy Aspergren & Emlen Drayton share a joke

Part of the incredible painting collection

Elegant piano nook

Janice Lee Kelly balloon sculpture

Inside the theater lobby

 Editor's Note:  Vanderbilt Hall, the venue for this party, has just been sold to Grace Hotels, a Greek Corporation, apparently ending Peter deSavary's plans for development of a private club in downtown Newport.

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