POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The historic Rodgers Theatre is an icon of downtown Poplar Bluff. For nearly six years, locals have been working to restore the theater and keep history alive.
Saturday night, a legendary performer from here in the Heartland took the stage, just like he did the first time back in 1957.
Narvel Felts says after more than 50 years of performing, the Rodgers is still one of his favorite venues.
Saturday night, he performed music that dates back to the 1950's that still gets a huge round of applause, just like it did nearly 60 years ago.
Narvel Felts has performed these tunes all over the world, but he says there's nowhere like the Rodgers.
"Usually I tell the audience that I was here the first time in 1957," Felts said.
He tells KFVS News that audiences were a little different back then, but the old-time theater feel of the Rodgers never faded away.
"The girls the girls mobbed me and tore my clothes off," Felts said. "[The Rodgers Theatre] was packed and the people were wonderful to me."
It's a spirit that Felts says, as a performer, can't be replaced.
"I'm so glad it's back open and active," Felts said.
The theater was built in 1949. Board president Christy Fraizer-Moore says it first opened as a movie theater.
"I had my first date here way back when, and that's why the theater is so dear to me," Fraizer-Moore said.
Locals say the theater walls hold many memories. That's why, six years ago, they started restoring the Rodger's Theater.
"February of 2008, we've had our first Opry here at the Rodgers," Brent Davis said.
Davis books many of the performers at the Rodgers. He says the money made at the shows goes into the restoration project.
"Narvel has filled it up. Gene Watson filled it up. I believe Doyle Lawson filled it up. Mo Bandy came close a couple of times," Davis said.
They have some big names take center stage at the Rodgers, but Fraizer-Moore says they still have some big repairs yet to make.
"First and foremost, we are trying to replace the roof," Fraizer-Moore said.
Fraizer-Moore says they still have a long way to go in restoring the theater, but they say once it's complete, the finished product will be well worth a standing ovation….
Davis says they expect to have raised about 2,000 dollars from Saturday night's show. That money will go towards restoring the Rodger's Theatre.
If you'd like to help restore The Rodgers, you can find more information here.