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Ready for takeoff with the Mars

POSTED: April 17, 2014 9:29 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

The renovated Mars Theatre

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The grand re-opening of the Mars Theatre is just a week away, and it is a highly-anticipated event.

And it should be.

The idea to breathe new life into a forgotten theater got its germination several years ago. There were times it seemed it would never happen, that the task was just too great. But persistence has paid off, and the work of the Springfield Revitalization Corporation and the Springfield City Council, the prime movers of the effort, is about to come to fruition.

The seats are in. The sign is up. The lights are on the exterior.

The agenda for the Mars is not just extensive, it is impressive, as well as diverse. The Grammy-nominated The Greencards, who have toured with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, open next weekend’s grand debut Friday at 8 p.m. The group von Grey, a quartet of classically-trained sisters who performed at the Mars during last year’s Theatre Revival Tour, take the stage Saturday night at 8.

The opening weekend concludes that Sunday afternoon with gospel singer Essie Mae Brooks, who will be the first in a series of concerts from the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Music Maker Relief is an organization that helps the pioneers of the blues gain recognition and meet their daily needs.

That’s just the first weekend. Next month, the Mars will show that it’s a venue for local and national acts. The Effingham County High School chorus will perform May 17 and a week later, noted rock fusion guitarist Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret., will play at the Mars. The Savannah Children’s Choir takes the Mars stage May 30, and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins will play May 31.

The Mars isn’t just about live performances, even though the roster of initial acts is terrific. It also will show movies, and its first movie will be “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” on May 1, the same night the film is released nationwide.

There is plenty of information on the Mars’ Web site, marstheatre.com, which in itself is a fine piece of work.

“Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, the night of nights,” once sang two of entertainment’s greatest performers. While this is much more serious business — the aforementioned entertainers were actually fictitious in nature — we couldn’t agree more. It has been a long time, closing on 60 years, since the doors of the Mars opened to customers. We congratulate the SRC and the city for coming this far and eagerly await its premiere as an entertainment destination.

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