CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — A renovated theater in the heart of a city conjures the history of a time when Hollywood giants graced the silver screen, and new owners want to recapture that magical time and more by re-opening The Uptown Theatre on Main Street.
“It has this real nostalgic feel about it,” event coordinator Lori Bingham said. “The sign out front makes you feel like you’re in the 1950s.”
Bingham, venue owner Rachel Jones and theater producer Richard Rhodes will launch the re-opening of The Uptown Theatre on April 4 and 5 with a ribbon cutting and live music.
The re-opening follows a year of planning and renovations of the theater, 218 Main St., that has a distinctive past.
The venue opened in the 1940s as a movie theater. The current owners inherited an old gas-powered projector, weighing thousands of pounds.
At one point, a fire damaged the building, closing it for a period of time. It re-opened in the 1990s as the Marble Theater.
When a multiplex theater opened in town, the venue closed again to be re-opened in 2004 by entrepreneur Russell Buster, who invested tens of thousands in upgrades, including renovations of the current Uptown sign uncovered beneath a previous one.
The venue closed again in 2012. Then, in March 2013, Jones, who also operates the R-Bar & Grill, hatched a plan to rekindle the appeal of the old theater.
“We’re trying to have main events every Saturday, and then, when summertime hits, it’s what’s going on around the city: family events, game shows, magicians, comedy shows,” Jones said. “We’re keeping with the whole Hollywood theme.”
Bingham said the most recent upgrades such as crown molding, new light fixtures and soft blue retro colors, “make it more classy, give it a Hollywood feel, glamour, a more simple scheme.”
Keeping with the theme, Rhodes has coordinated upgrades to the lobby, box office, building, theater, stage and table seating area, dance floor and the audio and video system.
“We re-balanced the room,” he said of the audio upgrades. “That’s when you listen to the audio, so the equalizer has it. It’s really nice in there.”
Rhodes is scheduled to install a five-point surround-sound system for upcoming movie-viewing events.
“I want to do movies here and do an Alamo Draft House style,” Jones said, referencing the iconic Austin movie theater. “It takes a lot more to do movies, but it’s definitely in our future.”
In the past, Uptown built a reputation for musician-friendly acoustics.
“Musicians love it. They like the intimate setting,” Rhodes said. “As long as the community comes to gather to support this place, it will have something for everyone.”
The public gets their first look at the venue April 4-5.
Uptown’s grand opening is a free event 6-7 p.m. April 4 at the theater with a Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony and the unveiling of the venue’s signature adult beverages with names such as The Hollywood, Great Gatsby, The Reel Thing, Cool Hand, The Headliner and The Gasoline.
The first live entertainment event, featuring musician Marcia Ball, is 6 p.m. April 5 with general admission at $25, front-row seating at $30 and tables by the stage at $35.
Organizers are donating 10 percent of the proceeds to the Marble Falls High School Project Graduation 2014.
“There is a lot of support in the local community,” Bingham said. “We’re such a close family as it is with Russell Buster. He’s giving us some training wheels to show us how it’s done. With the right mind and attitude, we’ll get it done.”
A Laugh Out Loud Comedy Show is scheduled for April 12.
Future events include Michael Martin Murphey in May and Gary P. Nunn in July.
Owners are offering packages for Main Street Retreat, show tickets, dinner for two and Wallace House accommodations for weekend getaways.
Go to www.theuptownonnain.com or call (830) 693-2622 for more information.