EATON — The Star Theatre at Eagles Point officially opened its doors to the public on Friday afternoon. The theatre, intended to serve as a venue for live performances, concerts, film screenings, and other community events, is located inside the auditorium of the former Eaton High School building on N. Cherry St. in Eaton.
“After last month’s culture shock of the arts center opening up downtown, now we have another in the form of this theatre,” Eaton Mayor Gary Wagner said during Friday’s ceremony. Wagner also read a proclamation declaring Aug. 16 to be Star Theatre Day.
“The former Eaton High School auditorium holds magical memories for so many local alumni, and for us to celebrate its grand revival today is nothing less than extraordinary,” the proclamation reads, in part. “Not only is the structure of the former auditorium to be commemorated, [but] we cut the ribbon and give a standing ovation to the new star who has moved into it!”
Wagner congratulated local business owner Mary Bullen, who owns the building and partnered with founder and board president Lisa Marling to start the theatre.
“As they say, break a leg!” Wagner said.
Bolan also spoke, expressing gratitude to Wagner and other city officials.
“When we first started talking about trying to do something with this wonderful, beautiful old building, a lot of people didn’t think it was going to be a good idea,” Bullen said. “But Gary and the city council supported us all the way.”
Marling has been involved with the theatre since she was four years old. She chose to start a theatre in Eaton after retiring from her previous career.
“I stepped out of the big rat race and came back to Eaton with my husband, who’s a Preble County boy,” Marling said. “I decided I wanted to start a theatre, and a friend of mine said you need to get in touch with a woman named Mary Bullen.”
Marling spoke briefly about Bullen during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We’ve all been working very, very hard to put the guts into this machine,” Marling said of the new theatre. “But the machine itself would not exist without Mary.”
Marling has big plans for the theatre in the months ahead, including trying to attract musical acts from Nashville and hosting a Christmas-themed talent show in December.
“Everybody can audition and do their thing,” Marling said of the holiday-themed program. “And we’ll build the show around the ones who have the most talent.”
Marling also plans to put on a performance of the musical Quilters, as well as hosting a series of TED Talks-like presentations by experts in a variety of fields which she calls “Preble Talks.”
The remaining members of the theatre’s board include locals Elaine Buckler, Chris Waxler, December Harper, and Starla Wing. Marling said the group hopes to elicit an outpouring of support from the local community.
“Like any nonprofit, we have to do a lot with a little,” Marling said. “We hope to eventually get to the point where we’re doing a lot with great support.”
Bringing art and culture to Preble County is an important endeavour, according to Marling.
“Because without the arts, communities do not thrive,” Marling said.