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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will headline the Robins Theater Grand Opening on January 9, 2020. (Submitted Photo)

WARREN — Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will kick off Robins Theatre, but audiences won’t have to wait until 2020 to get their first taste of the downtown theater that’s been dormant for 45 years.

Sunrise Entertainment will announce at a press conference today about a dozen shows for the restored theater, as well as five productions planned by the Millennial Theater Company, a local troupe that will make the Robins their permanent home.

The grand opening date was set over a year ago for January 9, 2020, the 97th anniversary of the theater’s opening in 1923. Sunrise founder Ken Haidaris and developer Mark Marvin, who bought the theater in December 2017, said they would offer a preview on December 7 with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute number First Snow.

The preview was planned for several reasons.

“It’s such a great Christmas show, I hated to pass it up,” Haidaris said. “We call it a soft opening. It’s a very technical show. We can run concessions, do whatever we need to do for the grand opening, and set up a meeting – what did we do right, what did we do wrong? We want to make sure our parking is correct. We will have shuttles (from the downtown parking lot). We really strive to make it a great experience from the moment you arrive until you leave.”

Marvin added, “The lighting and sound are really demanding (for First Snow). If you have deficiencies, this is a good way to find out.

To maintain the mystery of the grand opening, no cell phones or cameras will be allowed in the theater for First Snow.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, one of the key players responsible for the resurgence of swing music in the 1990s, will headline a full evening of activities on January 9th. The group appeared in the film “Swingers” and the Super Bowl XXXIII Halftime Show.

“The original theater was built for both film and live production, and we’re going to be both film and live production,” Marvin said. “We want to highlight the abilities of the theater immediately.”

The evening will include a cartoon short and a visual history of theater, Marvin said. They will introduce the team responsible for renovating the structure, and three local artists will perform short sets in front of the headliner.

It’s the first of three shows scheduled for opening weekend, followed by comedian Lisa Lampanelli on January 10 and 70s soft rock bands Firefall, Pure Prairie League and Orleans on January 11.

“If we have three shows in one weekend, we will have three different types of shows,” Haidaris said. “Mix. If we get one demographic to come to one show, we’ll have a different one for the other.

Haidaris works with Kent Stage owner Tom Simpson to book numbers for the Robins. Other shows that are part of the first set of announcements include classic ’70s rock bands like America, Blue Oyster Cult and a doubleheader with Poco and Atlanta Rhythm Section.

There will also be tribute acts like ABBAMania, a Dean Martin tribute on Valentine’s Day and the Journey E5C4P3E tribute, which drew huge crowds this summer at the Warren Community Amphitheater for River Rock at the Amp. , also produced by Sunrise Entertainment.

“My goal is not to have bands (at Robins) that we have at Amp, but they are so good” Haidaris said.

Sunrise and the Millennial Theater Company have previously teamed up on productions of “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Chicago” at the Ford Family Recital Hall in downtown Youngstown, and the nomadic theater troupe will now have a permanent home. The 2020 season will include “Shrek the Musical” “Heathers the Musical” “Hairspray,” a resumption of “The Rocky Horror Show” and a summer production to be announced. He is teased in the press release as being “something so new, something so hot and something so fresh that we are unable to release its title at this time.”

“They did a great job with ‘Chicago'” Haidaris said. “People can see a great game for not crazy money. I think it’s a valuable service, and it gives people a chance to show off their talents.

A production of the Neil Simon comedy is also planned “The Odd Couple” featuring WYTV morning show hosts Jim Loboy and Len Rome as bickering roommates. The couple starred in a 2012 production at the Victorian Players in Youngstown.

Haidaris said viewers can expect to see more theatrical productions touring the new venue in the second half of 2020.

“We are waiting for certain technical specifications to do some of these shows,” he said. ” It is a work in progress. We wait for some things to happen before others happen.

Tickets for all shows announced today go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the Robins Theater box office, 160 E. Market St., Warren, and online at An online-only presale will begin on Thursday. Those interested in the presale can sign up for the Robins Theater mailing list on the website to get the password.

The movies aren’t part of today’s announcement, but Marvin and Haidaris said they’ll be showing in theaters regularly. In some cases, films will be used as alternate programming on dates when no touring shows are scheduled there. But some movie lineups will be scheduled to coincide with special events — horror movies around Halloween, Christmas offerings in December, and war movies around Memorial Day or D-Day.


Robins Theater Opening Lineup

* December 7 — Preview with First Snow (tribute to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra). No phones or cameras will be allowed for this performance.

* January 9, 2020 – Opening Night Celebration with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

* January 10, 2020 – Lisa Lampanelli’s Losin’ It

* January 11, 2020 — Firefall, Pure Prairie League and Orleans

* January 17, 2020 – America (50th Anniversary Tour)

* January 23, 2020 — ABBAmania (Tribute to ABBA)

* February 7-9, 2020 — Comedy “The Odd Couple” with WYTV’s Jim Loboy and Len Rome.

* February 14, 2020 – Dean Lives (tribute to Dean Martin)

* February 15, 2020 — E5C4P3E (Tribute to travel)

* February 22, 2020 – Animaniacs in Concert, with Rob Paulsen and Randy Rogel

* March 8, 2020 — Blue Oyster Cult

* March 20, 2020 – Poco and Atlanta Rhythm section

The Robins Theater will also be the new headquarters of the Millennial Theater Company. Its 2020 season includes:

* March 13-15, 2020 — “Shrek the Musical”

* May 29-31, 2020 — “Heathers the Musical”

* July 31-August. 2, 2020 — Summer musical to be announced

* Oct. 30-31, 2020 — “The Rocky Horror Show”

* December 11-13, 2020 — “Hairspray”

Tickets for all shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the Robins Theater Box Office, 160 E. Market St., Warren, and online at An online-only presale will begin on Thursday. Those interested in the presale can sign up for the Robins Theater mailing list on the website to get the password.

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