Seating is installed last week at the Melba Theatre in downtown Houston.

The first performance at the renovated Melba Theatre in downtown Houston occurred Friday night. Constructed in 1938, the building 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 Street store fronts that include a community meeting room, University Extension offices and a commercial kitchen, as well as the Houston Visitors Center on Walnut Street.

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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, and no local tax money was involved.

Live productions and vintage movies are planned at the Melba. Technology to allow meetings also has been installed. The second performance of  “A Christmas Story,” by the Star Dramatic Co.,  is Saturday evening at 7. The cost is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. The event is sponsored by Houston Community Betterment and Arts Council of Houston.

On Sunday afternoon, 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 at 3 p.m. Immediately following, STARS will provide an encore performance of its annual “Messiah” Christmas concert. 

Orchestra members  hail from northwest Arkansas and across southern Missouri.

That event is planned as the grand opening — a free activity to allow the public to inspect the quarters. 

Separately, 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.

Melba Theatre

Inside the newly renovated Melba Theatre in downtown Houston.

At noon Saturday, there were 12 tickets available for that night’s performance. Need a ticket, call 417-260-0043.

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