Theater returns after being struck by lightning

Theater returns after being struck by lightning
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

LEACHVILLE, AR (KAIT) - An area theater hosted its grand opening this weekend, over a year after area residents thought it may never open again.

The Melody Theater in Leachville was struck by lightning and suffered huge amounts of damage from a fire in March 2017.

Manila resident Moba Lee Miller said the damage was devastating.

"We had to do a lot of work," Miller said. "We had to replace everything. The ceiling, some of the walls. . .it was just like the fire went everywhere. And it was just a black, black soot. It was horrible."

The doors have since reopened for its first performance since the fire.

Teachers and students from Buffalo Island Central put on the production.

Nancy Spencer, the English and drama teacher at Buffalo Island Central, said they've had a blast.

"The play is The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood," Spencer said. "It's pretty much slapstick comedy. The kids have had a lot of fun putting it together. There were a lot of extra jokes on the rehearsal days."

Miller said the Melody Theater has always been important to her.

"My late husband always said I thought more of this theater than I did my own home," Miller said. "I have worked and volunteered here for over 20 years. I've done a little bit of everything. The day of the fire, I sat outside on the back of my pick up all day and cried. It means a lot to me and this town. I grew up here and saw this theater when it was first built. And it has a wonderful meaning to me. We've had lots of good shows and I've met many good people."

Thirty-two 7th through 12th-grade students worked on the production.

Spencer said the theater means a lot to them all.

"Since we reopened our drama department at BIC," Spencer said. "We were supposed to have our very first production here. Then the Melody caught on fire and we were devastated. We went ahead and did our production, The Beverly Hillbillies, at the West Elementary Cafeteria. So, we are so honored to be opening the Melody theater with this hilarious rendition of Robin Hood."

9th-grade student Leo Perez said he was thrilled to be performing in the Melody theater.

"The Melody Theater has been here for quite some time," Perez said. "There have been plenty of shows in here. So, I'm quite honored to be in this place and do something for these people."

"The first time we came in here the students were so excited," Spencer said. "They're gaining a real sense of what working in a real theater is like."

Spencer said the theater provides BIC's students with an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have.

"We have cafetoriums at our school," Spencer said. "We don't have an auditorium. So, they love being here because we have real seats. And also, it's historical. The first day we came in here I took them around the whole theater. Their favorite part is upstairs because it's where they used to store all the movie films and run the movies. And it's soundproof up there. They're already telling ghost stories that don't exist about it!"

Miller said it was wonderful to see the doors open and people coming inside again.

"It was a big thrill," Miller said. "I could not tell you how happy I was. And people bragging about the work we've all done on this theater to try and keep it going, it just makes my heart swell."

The Melody Theater was built in 1948.

To learn more about the Melody Theater and the upcoming events, click here.

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