Family happy theater returning to Gonzales

Photo provided by Sam Pasqua -- Standing in front of the Pasqua Theater on its last day in business in 1984 are, from left, Pearl Pasqua, who sold concessions at the theater until 1968; Frank Pasqua, longtime theater owner; Elia Shaddinger,who sold tickets from 1944 to the theater's closure; and Joyce Pasqua, Frank's wife.
Photo provided by Sam Pasqua -- Standing in front of the Pasqua Theater on its last day in business in 1984 are, from left, Pearl Pasqua, who sold concessions at the theater until 1968; Frank Pasqua, longtime theater owner; Elia Shaddinger,who sold tickets from 1944 to the theater's closure; and Joyce Pasqua, Frank's wife.

Fostering hometown memories

People still have fond memories of the Pasqua Theater that opened here in 1938 and closed in 1984.

In an Advocate article published in 2001 about memories of Gonzales of yesteryears, residents shared stories of how they got their first jobs at the Pasqua Theater in the 1930s or saw movies there for 50 cents in the 1950s.

They also remembered owner and founder Sam Pasqua being on hand to greet customers. For many years, until the 1950s, Pasqua also ran a second theater, the Gonzales Theater on Burnside.

Sam Pasqua’s son, Frank, took over the Pasqua Theater operations in 1953, after the death of his father, and helped create more happy memories before closing the theater in 1984. Frank Pasqua passed away in 2006.

The last movie shown in Gonzales — until the new Premier Cinema opens here in May — was “The Last Starfighter” at the Pasqua on Nov. 25, 1984, three days after Thanksgiving that year.

For the curious, the movie is about a video-gaming, teenage boy recruited by aliens to fight in an intergalactic war.

The original Pasqua Theater building, at 823 N. Felicity Ave., is now home to the Ascension Community Theater.

Sam Pasqua, grandson of Sam Pasqua Sr., the original movie entrepreneur, said, “My mother, Joyce Pasqua, and our family are happy to see that a theater is returning to Gonzales. ... A hometown theater itself can mean much more to someone than just a place to watch a movie.

“Hundreds of people who grew up in Gonzales have reminisced to me of their experiences at the Pasqua Theater,” Pasqua said in an email.

“As a small child, it was the place they saw their first big-screen, color Walt Disney movie.

“As a pre-teen, it was a place their parents could comfortably drop them off with friends or siblings. They could experience a first taste of freedom to buy their own ticket, choose their own candy, choose their own seat and choose whether to behave, or not.

“As a young teen, many remember the theater as the place they had their first date, held hands or kissed for the first time, or maybe had their first break-up,” Pasqua said.

“Many people remember the Pasqua Theater as the place they had their first job.

“My father, Frank Pasqua, grew up in the theater and returned as an adult to run it for 32 years. He watched children as they grew up through these stages and then watched as they returned as parents with their toddlers to repeat the cycle.

“Times have changed and Gonzales is not the ‘small town’ it once was, but maybe this (new) theater can provide some of these hometown memories which have been absent for the past 30 years,” Pasqua said.