A new production is coming to the stage at the Mt. Vernon Theatre in Tallassee, starring real life characters George McCain and Jan Autery.
"I'm really excited about this," said McCain as he and Autery chatted inside the dimly lit theatre.
McCain and Autery are working side-by-side to bring life back in the theatre built in 1935. It closed its doors in 1968. In the midst of dirt and grime, it is very clear the place packed full of stories and memories has been neglected, but not anymore.
"It's going to happen," said Autery, Secretary of the Mt. Vernon Theatre's Executive Board of Directors.
Autery and McCain are heading up an ambitious drive to raise $430,000 to bring the place up to code. A radiothon recently raised more than $10,000. The fundraising campaign is well under way. A few events coming up include 'Music in the Park' on April 12 in Tallassee's Bell Parkn and the Kentucky Derby party on May 4th at the 1220 Cafe in town.
"We'll have musical events like plays and piano recitals...," said McCain.
McCain and Autery say this is much more than just bringing the theatre back. The hope is this part of downtown Tallassee will become vibrant again. The Talisi Hotel fire a few years ago all but snuffed out the life for some businesses.
"We believe this will encourage people to open up businesses again because you'll have a lot of people coming to the theatre," said McCain.
McCain, who is the former mayor of Tallassee, points to what the Renaissance Hotel and Spa has done to downtown Montgomery's rebirth.
During its heyday the Mt. Vernon Theatre had big stars drop by, including people like country music legend Hank Williams. The goal is to restore some of that magic within one year.
"Tallassee needs this. The community needs this," Autery said. When completed, the theatre will be able to seat around 700 people.
Autery and McCain acknowledge this is a huge undertaking, but they long ago removed the weeds of doubt and hit the ground running. They're too busy writing the second act for the grand old lady.
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