As our community prepares to see the lights at the McAllen Civic Auditorium turned down for the last time, we stand at the crossroads of honoring the past while embracing the future. With thousands of performances and hundreds of thousands of patrons, to step foot in the auditorium is to take a step into the past and onto hallowed ground.
On April 28, 1960, Melba Huber, locally known as simply “Melba,” was tasked with putting on the inaugural show.
“The City and Chamber asked me to direct the first show to ‘show off’ the new stage. We produced a variety show with all Valley talent. We even had a waterfall on stage that ran with the water from the water fountain. We had a big band that Jim Huber directed and played piano. The show was sold out for the two nights,” said Huber.
The venue has meant a lot to people not only in McAllen, but also across the Rio Grande Valley; a crown jewel of sorts accenting our culture and passion for the arts. Over the years, thousands of Valley residents attended performances, many as school children making the annual trip to watch The Nutcracker. Many others would come for concerts and have the best nights of their lives. There were countless first-dates and many unforgettable family experiences. The collective memories run the gamut.
Change doesn’t always come easily but when it does come, it should be for the best. This new venue is just that–a community moving forward as one and making the leap to serve its people.
The City of McAllen continues its efforts to enhance the local arts and cultural experiences by delivering the most advanced performing arts center south of San Antonio. This venue will allow the city to host an immense variety of entertainment that has never been possible before in South Texas. Classic traveling Broadway shows such as The Lion King, Jersey Boys and The Phantom of the Opera are all possibilities in the future. This venture will give the local area an opportunity to continue enriching lives and follow the trajectory of its predecessor.
The new dynamic venue will also have the capacity to host a wide range of performances. In addition to the much-anticipated traveling Broadway shows, the venue will provide ample room for experiences such as concerts, dance recitals and symphonies. When complete, the four-level City of McAllen Performing Arts Center will total 93,471 square-feet and seat approximately 1,800 spectators.
Over the years, Melba, now owner of Melba’s School of Dancing in McAllen, has put on countless shows and recitals. Ending her final performance at the McAllen Civic Auditorium, she shared her appreciation for the auditorium and how well it served the community along with expressing gratitude for all those who have been continually supportive since that first show in 1960.
“We are very fortunate that the city has given us this wonderful building, and a really great one that is to come. It’s just a sad and glorious time to see everything go; but this is for the better. And we thank all of you so much for supporting this throughout the years,” said Melba.
Continued community support combined with the vision behind the $45 million Performing Arts Center will create a vibrant venue that rivals that of any big city and serves the local community.
The iconic facility will occupy the southeast side of the McAllen Convention Center and is expected to open in the Fall of 2016. McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, City Commissioners, developers, and others will be on hand for inaugural ceremonies.