• 73°

BLT ready to light up downtown

The Haven theater in downtown Brookhaven never went anywhere,but its caretakers are throwing a welcome back party of sorts forthe historic building Saturday night.

Brookhaven Little Theatre’s 2008 membership party beginsSaturday at 7 p.m., and will feature a split party inside thetheater and outside on Cherokee Street. Before the festivities end,there will be plenty of music, the restored Haven sign will beswitched on in full neon glory and someone will go home with$10,000.

The party’s main attraction this year is undoubtedly therestored sign, which hasn’t lit up downtown Brookhaven in decades.The showing off of the sign and revitalized theater façade have ledto the party’s theme – “Switching on the Haven.”

“With all the work and revitalization that’s been going on allover downtown in the last six months, we’re using this party almostto reintroduce the theater and its programs to the entirecommunity,” said Save the Haven Committee Chairwoman JoAnnaSproles. “We want people to know that we’re here, we’ve beenrenovated and restored, and we’re ready to entertain and educateour community.”

Admission to the inside party is $35 and comes with a seasonticket that is good for four plays at the Haven. There will be abrief presentation on the theater’s history and recent progress, aswell as several performances of show tunes from the theater’s mostpopular plays throughout the years, including selections from”Oklahoma,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”

The inside party will also see the awarding of the 2008 JohnLandress Award, presented annually for outstanding service to thetheater over a period of years.

At 7:45 p.m., the $10,000 draw down will take place. Theatersupporters have been selling $100 tickets to raise money for futurerenovation efforts.

BLT board member Emily Henderson said the inside party will jointhe outside party – which is free and also begins at 7 p.m. -shortly after 8 p.m. for the main attraction – the lighting of thesign. The sign is scheduled to be powered up at approximately 8:30p.m.

“Once we turn the neon sign on, it really becomes a streetparty,” Henderson said. “People can visit, dance and party.”

The Boy Scouts of America and the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce’s Les Belles dé Hospitalite will assistvisitors at the party.

Local rock band Ghost Town will begin performing once the signis turned on.

Several local elected officials, as well as officials from theMississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Department ofArchives and History – both of which helped fund the Haven’srenovations – will attend the party.

“This will be a historic moment for downtown Brookhaven,”Henderson said. “It has been a long time since the sign has beenturned on, and I think it’s going to be a beacon for downtown. Ihope a lot of people come out to witness it.”

Henderson advised those attending the street party to bring alawn chair.

Haven T-shirts, Brookstock at the Haven T-shirts and posters andconcessions will be sold at the party. If any of the $100 ticketsfor the $10,000 draw down remain by Saturday night, they will besold up until about 7:30 p.m., Henderson said.