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Somerset to unveil renovated theatre Saturday


A 100-year-old cinema in Somerset will be in the spotlight Saturday, June 11, at a community open house to showcase the rebirth of the Virginia Theatre.

The $2.3 million dollar renovation of the arts and culture facility will bring new life to a beloved downtown building, after it was vacant for more 25 years.

The city of Somerset has awarded a contract to Pure Grain Productions to book live music performances at the theater from July through December.

Pure Grain co-partner Nathan Isaac says the Virginia Theatre will add to the Master Musicians Festival and local venues to build Somerset’s identity as “a music town.”

“This is a perfect stop when bands are routing from Nashville to Chicago they’re traveling right past Somerset," said Isaac. "It’s really become, in the last four or five years, a place that a lot of musicians know.”

Isaac said the quality of the theater makes it extremely attractive to musicians who may want to add Somerset to their touring schedule.

“The theater’s beautiful. I’ve been to a lot of venues, here in Kentucky and throughout the U.S. and I think in terms of sound and design, and just the look of everything, it’s just such a beautiful space,” said Isaac.

He said there will be some comedy nights on the schedule.

Live productions will be presented by Somerset’s Flashback Theatre.

The space will also be available for weddings and other private events.

The Virginia Theatre was built in 1922 by T.E. Jasper and named for his daughter, Virginia.

The Downtown Somerset Development Corporation gained ownership of the building in 2003 and in 2020 deeded the building to the city for one dollar, based on an agreement to renovate it and keep it as an entertainment venue and historic site.

Saturday’s open house at The Virginia Theatre is from 6 to 8 p.m.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans. She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio, as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass.
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