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Missouri Theatre gets final touches for grand opening

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | 6:33 p.m. CDT; updated 3:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Plastic sheets cover the seats of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts as workers put the finishing touches on the building in preparation for the theater's gala. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Wednesday morning before the inagural performance by Tony Bennett at 7 p.m.

COLUMBIA — From the outside looking in, the new Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts may not seem ready for its ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Outside the theater on Tuesday morning, about 15 men could still be seen wiring lights on the marquis and rushing in and out of the building.

Despite the frantic appearance of these last minute efforts, workers are confident the renovations will be completed for its opening ceremony and first concert Wednesday.

Other Grand Opening Events at the Missouri Theatre

Reel Vintage featuring the film "Steamboat Bill, Jr." May 29, 6:30 p.m. “Art of it All” Carnival and Circus Celebration May 31, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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“We’re about done,” Gary Newton, a worker for Koonse Glass, said. “We have a little bit left.”

Newton said all of the public areas of the theater will be finished for the opening. The only parts of the building that will be unfinished are the second floor administrative offices and some other back rooms.

Kanani May, director of public relations and marketing for the Missouri Theatre, said these last-minute efforts are not the result of any wasted time during the renovations. Crews have been busy since the demolition of the old building began on July 28, 2007, and have finished the project on schedule.

May said workers are now busy just doing little things, such as tacking down portions of the carpet, attaching knobs to restored doors, putting equipment in the box office and testing the sound and lighting systems.

With restored paintings, a new jewel-toned color palette and a foyer three times the size of what theatergoers might remember, May is confident that Columbians will appreciate the beauty of the reopened building.

“Everywhere you look, it’s just like you stepped back into the glorious twenties,” May said.

On Wednesday, there will be a live remote broadcast of the KFRU morning show at 9 a.m. in front of the theater, followed by the ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. State Representative Judy Baker and Ellen Roper, the president of the board of directors of the Missouri Symphony Society, will be present at the ribbon cutting. Co-chairs of the Capital Campaign Committee, Axie Hindman, Mayor Darwin Hindman’s wife, and Kevin Gibbens, are also attending.

May said the Lee Elementary School choir will be singing a specially commissioned piece, “This Old Place is Alive Tonight” by Jordan Black, at the ceremony.

After the ribbon cutting, attendees will be able to enter the building for the revelation of the 3-D art naming wall, an artistic creation by local artist Sabra Tull Neyer.

Kate Gray, a local watercolorist, painted the names of the donors for the restoration of the theater on the wall. Individuals, businesses or foundations who gave grants of $1,000 or more received the privilege of having their name included on the wall.

At 6:30 p.m., the black tie gala will begin. There will be champagne and hors d’oeuvres to start the evening, while suspense builds for Tony Bennett’s concert at 7:30 p.m.

At the end of the evening, each guest will be given a special, and secret, commemorative gift.

Hindman said she thinks the opening of the theater will be a huge benefit to downtown Columbia because the arts help keep the area active and vibrant.

“Not only do we have the new theater, but we have the YouZeum and the new Ragtag,” Hindman said. “All of these venues together are going to make the downtown district popular not only to people in Columbia, but as a destination for people in surrounding areas as well.”


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