Coleman Theatre in Miami to mark 90th birthday on Thursday

The Coleman Theatre in Miami, Oklahoma, will mark its 90th anniversary Thursday with a screening of “The Wizard of Oz” and other festivities that night.

The theater asked the public on Facebook which film it would most like to see, and “Gone With the Wind” was the winner. However, management nixed it because of its nearly four-hour run time.

The Joplin Globe had more details:

They settled on “The Wizard of Oz” primarily for three reasons. First, the movie turns 80 this year, 10 years behind the Coleman, which opened on April 18, 1929. Second, the film was shown to area audiences in Miami during its run in 1939. Third, the Singer’s Midgets, a popular vaudeville group, performed live at the Coleman in February 1930. The group of actors would receive their big break in the movie, playing the Munchkins welcoming Dorothy to their city, sending her off down the Yellow Brick Road.

The master of “The Mighty Wurlitzer” organ, Dennis James, will play, beginning at 6:30 p.m., a selection of music coinciding with the film, which plays at 7:10 p.m. […]

Aside from audience members serenading the building on its birthday, there will be a ceremonial cutting of a birthday cake. This will take place at 6:50 p.m.

Audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favorite “Oz” character — prizes will be handed out for best costumes — or wear green, as “honorary citizens of the Emerald City,” Duhon said.

Proceeds from the event Thursday will go to the “90 Dollars to Celebrate 90 Years” campaign to update the theater’s sound and lighting systems.

The Coleman Theatre opened in 1929 as a vaudeville venue, then transitioned into a movie house. Those who have performed there over the years include Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Sally Rand, Bing Crosby, Jim Thorpe and magician Harry Blackstone.

The Coleman family donated the theater to the city in 1989, and volunteers spent years painstakingly restoring it. The theater was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

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