Seating is installed last week at the Melba Theatre in downtown Houston. The renovated facility opens Friday and Saturday with the musical production "A Christmas Story."

The first performances inside the renovated Melba Theatre in downtown Houston are this weekend.

“A Christmas Story” –– by the Star Dramatic Co. –– is 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The cost is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. The event is sponsored by Houston Community Betterment and Arts Council of Houston.

Constructed in 1938, the Melba and two adjoining ones underwent a massive renovation to reopen it after its closure in the early 1980s. The project was undertaken by Downtown Houston Inc., a not-for-profit group that has tackled other community projects, including the Lone Star Plaza and its pavilion, three Main Store storefronts that include a community meeting room, University Extension offices and a commercial kitchen, as well as the Houston Visitors Center on Walnut Street.

The Melba project began in 2016 and includes a concession stand, bigger lobby area, new restrooms, dressing rooms and a new stage, curtains, sound and video system and new seating. Downtown Houston Inc. raised the money for the $600,000 project. No local tax money was involved.

Live productions and vintage movies are planned at the Melba. Technology to allow meetings also has been installed.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, the Southern Ozarks Community Orchestra, which includes members of the STARS Foundation of Cabool, will perform a free Christmas concert at the Melba. Show time is 3 p.m.

Members hail from northwest Arkansas and across southern Missouri.

Downtown Houston Inc. announced it has signed an agreement with STARS Foundation, an organization that operates a number of arts programs in the region. It will perform plays at least twice annually. Its volunteer workers will also be in charge of the operation of the facility, its cleaning and other tasks.

Scheduling of events and building rental arrangements will be done by volunteer Elaine Campbell.

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