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The Game Plan

Making Historic Leesburg Feel Young Again

Posted by Carten Cordell / Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Tally Ho Theatre to reopen as performing arts venue.

Tally Ho currently closed for renovations and will re-open sometime in Winter 2012. / Photo courtesy of Seth Freeman

 

          When Don Devine left for college, he swore he would never return to Leesburg. But a growing family, real estate job and sacred childhood memories brought him back decades later to the Tally Ho Theatre, which he purchased in the late 1990s.

         This historic venue first opened in 1931, playing first-run silent movies for a knock-out price. It’s become somewhat of a landmark to the downtown area, unique for its art deco exterior and unchanging ways in the last 80 years.

         Recent competition from major multiplexes and the cost of digitizing the venue kept it from continuing as a theater. This was the sign Devine needed to return the Tally Ho to its original glory, but with a youthful twist.

         An advocate for preservation, Devine is working to transform the Tally Ho into what it was designed to be: a performing arts venue, complete with a stage, piano and 30-foot ceiling. It will be called the Tally Ho Club and will host musicians of all ages and genres, from contemporary to country to the classics.

         “I do want to have very current music there on the weekends. I want to have a good mix of progressive bands in there, but it’s probably going to be mostly indie bands.” But genres from country to modern dub step could make the cut as well. “I’m not going to cater to any existing demographic,” he says.

         For now, the renovations—estimated winter completion—are strictly cosmetic. The lobby will be retiled and repainted, giving it a 1970s-style motif. The current two-auditorium setup will become one. A few rows of seats will be removed to bring in a dance floor, and a brand new sound system will be installed to enhance future performances. At the moment, the venue can hold about 500, but Devine hopes to cut that down to 250 to create an intimate music experience fit to entertain all ages. 

 

(November 2012)

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