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Dress rehearsals for "Dear Mama"

Theater opens this week

By Michael Butler

Freddie Jones remembers going to the picture show as a youngster.

"I was five-years-old," he said. "I walked from Herd Street. I went to the double feature. When I got ready to go home it was dark and I ran home all the way."

Jones attended the Mount Vernon Theatre at the corner of Barnett Boulevard and DuBois Street in Tallassee. It opened in 1935. It has been about five decades since it was last utilized.

With that span, it's not surprising that the anticipation for its reopening is at a fever pitch among Tallasseeans. Their wait is almost over.

Renovations are near completion just in time to relaunch the historic landmark with the stage production, "Dear Mama: Letters and Music from World War II."

There are three showtimes; Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. The performance will rewind the clock to capture Tallassee as a mill town. The cast of approximately 50 includes several local actors, as well as the screenwriter, Adrian Lee Borden.

Borden wrote the script for another Tallassee production, "Letters from the Heart Pocket," which was an adaption based during the Civil War era.

"We felt like that format was successful," she said. "This time we do have speeches from Churchill, FDR, Eisenhower, Edward R. Murrow (and) Lindbergh."

Borden will portray one of the Andrews Sisters featuring songs from the Big Band era.

"We have music from Bing Crosby to Ella Fitzgerald. We have lots of swing music and dancing. It's been a labor of love. It's my favorite era, the 1940s, even though it was a tumultuous time."

It was an era when the Mount Vernon Theatre was a hotspot. Restorations to the theater have brought it back to its early splendor with improvements that include an expanded stage, more seating capacity, enlarged bathrooms and a heating and cooling system. A dressing room, concession area and technical booth have also been added. One hidden feature is a courtyard available for access during intermissions.

The bottom level has a capacity of 468. The balcony seats have yet to be installed.

The first 100 guests to the grand reopening will receive a free gift. Everyone that attends will be given a commemorative souvenir. To purchase tickets, go to www.mountvernontheatre.net.

Entry Doors

Original Ticket Window

Balcony


Sound Booth

Ceiling Detail


Stairwell to Balcony

Original Front Door

Stained Glass by Morris Hall


Seating on Bottom Level

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