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Rick Nelson In Benefit For Theater

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At This Stage

By Norman Gibson

Rick Nelson in benefit for theater

I learn now that rock and roll star Rick Nelson is coming into town Tuesday for next to nothing.

He will perform the classics that made him famous and some of the newer stuff at 8 p.m. in the Michigan Theater.

All the Rick Nelson fans will be in the 1,800-seat, 52-year-old theater, I’m sure. Some will be going because they want to take a nostalgic look at the television boy they grew up with on the “Ozzie and Harriet Show,” which featured Ricky, his brother, father and mother.

SOME OF those who neither grew up with Rick Nelson nor remember the television series would be doing the whole Ann Arbor cultural scene a favor if they would buy tickets.

This is the figuring of Karen Young, who’s responsible for getting Nelson to drop off in this land of cultural devotion.

Young is one of 20 community leaders on the board of directors of the Michigan Community Theater Corporation, which faces quite a financial struggle in saving the historic theater from a fate worse than the wreckers ball.

IT ISN’T even certain yet the corporation will get the deed to the theater, because negotiations continue with the owners, and they want the sale consummated in certain ways.

Its fate will be sealed by the end of the year.

But the corporation goes ahead as if it will have the building after the turn of the decade.

THE RICK Nelson concert is the first big benefit planned for the former motion picture palace, which still shows movies, the most current one being “The Student Prince” at 8 p.m. today, with tickejs.available at the door.

Tickets forfhe Nelson concert are available at Aura Sounde, Wherehouse Records in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Falsetta’s Market and Huckleberry Party Store in Ypsilanti.

Comedian Fred Smoot also performs with the Nelson Band.

YOUNG SAYS the performance is family-oriented.

Because of the great amount of money which will be needed in the purchase and refurbishing of the theater, she encourages anyone who cannot get to the concert to buy a ticket, anyway.

All but Nelson and the band are furnishing their services without pay. Alternative Lighting is furnishing the stage lighting required by the production and the group believes that it has found someone to furnish, without cost, the sound equipment that will be needed.

THE ANN ARBOR Chamber Orchestra has announced that it will hold its entire 1979-80 season in the Michigan Theater, from Oct. 27 through next May 10, with a special concert and midnight supper on New Year’s Eve.

Other groups plan to use the facilities on a one-time basis and determine whether it will suit their needs. A local civic group will sponsor a production; a two-day seminar and workshop will be held in the theater; and there are possibilities of jazz and big band concerts.

The most pressing need of the theater is for a new heating boiler. There is some concern that the heating will not be adequate once the really cold weather sets in. The stage lighting also had been termed “antiquated”.

RESTORATION work was performed on the theater in 1955. Brass swinging doors were removed, mirrors were taken down and a new ceiling covered one that is considered to be prettier.

If enough money is obtained, the theater corporation would restore the building to the condition it was in on the date of its opening.

Dr. Henry Aldridge, professor of speech at Eastern Michigan University, is acting president of the board of directors.

HE ALSO is active in the Motor City Organ Society, which was responsible for restoring the original Barton organ that had fallen into disrepair in the pit of the Michigan Theater. This group is vitally interesting in keeping the theater as it was.

Elwood J. Holman, who is president of the Colvin-Robinson Associates Architectural firm is secretary of the theatrical corporation.