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Robins Theatre lives up to expectations

There was not a detail missed in planning for the grand reopening last week of the newly renovated Robins Theatre in downtown Warren.

On the 97th anniversary of the historic theater’s original opening, visitors crowded in — many proving it was perfectly normal to dress in black tie apparel for a concert headlined by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Robin Lake, the son of the then-4-year-old girl who cut the ribbon back in 1923, did the honors Thursday, quickly snipping the red ribbon with an oversized pair of golden scissors. The ceremony started with a 10-minute film that mixed historic images of the theater with clips from some of the many films that played there over the years. Fittingly, the montage included Arnold Schwarzenegger quote, “I’ll be back,” and Judy Garland from “The Wizard of Oz” quote, “There’s no place like home.”

Each attendee Thursday night received a gift bag holding an engraved Robins Theatre keychain, and yes, even a miniature replica of the program for the Robins’ opening night of Jan. 9, 1923. Certainly, that must have been quite an anticipated affair in the roaring 1920s, but it was well rivaled by the long-awaited reopening last week.

And the value of the large crowd that this momentous event brought downtown wasn’t to be forgotten by the planners who understand the value these folks bring to nearby downtown businesses, restaurants and bars. The gift bags distributed to the guests also included coupons and samples from those neighborhood restaurants and retailers with hopes they would visit that night or again sometime very soon.

It’s the economic boost in downtown visitors and traffic that will be invaluable for businesses in the area of Courthouse Square — just like the Covelli Centre and the new Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre have done for downtown Youngstown businesses each time those venues host events.

The Robins owner, Warren businessman Mark Marvin and his Downtown Development Group, deserves primary praise and recognition for his vision on this project — especially when so many said it couldn’t be done. He was the impetus and the planner behind the more than $5 million renovation project that began more than a year ago.

“If you build it, they’ll come,” Marvin told our entertainment writer Andy Gray on Thursday night. “The building is full. Downtown is full.”

Many downtown bars and restaurants were filled with concertgoers before the event, which Marvin and Sunrise Entertainment President Ken Haidaris said was one of their goals when the renovation first was announced.

“People said no one will come to downtown Warren,” Haidaris said. “Well, look at it tonight.”

Marvin had a dream for his hometown and he never gave up on the dream that he and so many others held — to see the Robins reopen with all the same glitz, glamour and entertainment of yesteryear.

Yes, Thursday’s grand opening had a little bit of everything for everyone. With the broad-ranging schedule of events planned for the theater in upcoming weeks and months, we certainly hope and urge everyone to make plans for a visit sometime very soon. We’re sure once you go once, you’ll keep going back.

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