Stars on Maine to open next week in downtown Fallon |

Stars on Maine to open next week in downtown Fallon

BEFORE: The dining room before renovations in the three bedroom apartment above the century-old Fallon Theatre.
Merilee Johnson/Courtesy

Maine Street may soon become the Hollywood Boulevard of Fallon.

As the local performing arts culture continues to thrive, the century-old Fallon Theatre is going beyond popcorn and films.

Local innovator Merilee Johnson is making her dream come true Tuesday as it’s the official opening of Stars on Maine.

The new arts studio is located in the apartment above the theatre — which hasn’t been occupied for 20 years—except as a haunted house tour during Halloween.

“You see these triple threats in Hollywood where people can sing, dance, and act,” she said. “We have that here and we want to give the community an opportunity to see it and show it.”

Johnson envisioned a hot spot for families and individuals to get more involved with theatrical and musical arts; she and her team renovated the three-bedroom, two bathroom apartment in one month, with 22 gallons of paint and five coats on each wall, thanks to generous the donations raised around $2,000.

The former living room is now a parents’ lounge; the dining area transformed into a dance studio, and the kitchen will become a locally-owned bakery. The bedrooms are now a classroom, office, and an overflow room to control crowds.

There are more hidden rooms in the theatre for more reconstruction, such as a soon-to-be dressing room for rehearsals and multiple storage rooms for costumes.

For inspiration, walls will be covered in notable quotes from novels and movies, along with vintage theatrical posters found in storage.

Glen Perazzo, director of the Fallon Theatre, said he’s excited where the new features will lead.

“I’m so grateful for the volunteers who have the vision to really create our space into a community performance, education and arts center,” he said. “We have an excellent facility which will serve the program needs.”

The movie house has undergone many renovations over the last 98 years. Johnson pitched her idea to Perazzo and the Fallon Community Theatre, Inc. as a way to support the theatre and encourage locals to get involved.

“The Fox Peak Cinema is beautiful,” she said. “But do the walls tell a story and share a piece of local history? People went on their first dates at the Fallon Theatre, or first saw their favorite movie.”

Johnson said parents are welcome to drop off their kids if it’s a movie date night, into a warm, welcoming environment without cliques.

The center will offer dance classes for all ages, ranging $20-$30 dollars a month, varying from ballet, salsa, tap, jazz, and hip-hop.

But performances and scripts aren’t just finished and sent home at the end of the day; Johnson and Perazzo are resurrecting the vaudeville venues behind the screens and its dressing rooms beneath it.

“People will create and practice their material, and then bring it to the public,” Johnson said. “Glen has been supportive of every project in development.”

There’s more drama coming to Fallon, but it’s the happy, enjoyable kind; once Stars on Maine gets used to running its business in town, Johnson hopes to create a local walk of fame.

“We’re developing a local Emmy event and include paparazzi,” she said. “We want our members and participants to feel like they have power in showcasing their talents.”