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Before Motown legends perform, theater marks its 95th anniversary

September 11, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • The Four Tops perform Saturday night at The Maryland Theatre to help celebrate the historic landmark's 95th anniversary.
Alicia Notarianni, Staff Writer

The Temptations and the Four Tops are billed as acts to behold.

But before the Motown legends took to the stage of The Maryland Theatre Saturday night to celebrate its 95th anniversary, supporters of the theater put on something of a show of their own.

About 350 people mingled and dined under a 200-foot-long white tent on the street in front of the historic landmark theater. The portion of Potomac Street was shut down for the celebration. Burgundy and gold decor graced the 36 dining tables, carrying the theater motif out to the street.

Marci Howes, a volunteer marketing and promotions coordinator for the theater, said event organizers wanted the dinner venue to be close to the theater. Potomac Street is closed for Wind Down Fridays, she said, so organizers decided to build on that concept.

Howes said The Maryland Theatre's Board of Directors planned the 95th anniversary event to kick off a countdown to the theater's 100th anniversary.

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"We wanted to start the celebration this year instead of waiting until the 100th. We are gearing up now," Howes said. "This is a birthday party and anniversary celebration to thank the patrons as well as a fundraising dinner."

Tickets for dinner cost $150 and concert tickets cost about $60.

Jay C. Constantz, executive director of The Maryland Theatre, anticipated that attendance for the dinner and concert combined would be about 1,200 people.

"We are pretty close to a sellout," he said before the concert began.

The theater exists mostly as it did when it opened in 1915, Constantz said. A 1912 Ford Model T and a 1906 Model N were parked outside the front doors to remind attendees of those times.

Constantz said the theater "is probably the most important arts establishment in Hagerstown."

"The theater anchors the Arts and Entertainment District, and it's really the only remaining theater in the city to accommodate entertainment of all kinds -- live theater, live music and dance," he said.

Sam Young, president of The Maryland Theatre Board of Directors, announced plans to expand the facility to provide operational and auxiliary spaces.

Concept sketches were displayed on easels inside the theater lobby.

Plans include a first-floor extension of the theater lobby to the street, as it had been before a fire in 1974, and a new box office. There would be second-floor administrative offices, third-floor studio space and a fourth-floor reception area with a terrace.

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