For the current generation of teens, the Miller is just a dark marquee and a blocked-off entrance on Broad Street. I want to change that.
Growing up in the suburbs of Columbia County, I have always admired the energy and local flavor that downtown Augusta possesses, especially its buildings. This admiration led me to an interest in historic preservation.
Mixed with my fixation on all things theater, it led me to decide to help save the Miller Theatre as part of my senior project, a Columbia County school system graduation requirement.
My project is called Music for the Miller. It's a fundraiser designed to promote the Miller's cultural value and to entertain.
It will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at West Acres Baptist Church, 555 Gibbs Road in Evans. Admission costs $8 at the door.
I got approval for the project from Symphony Orchestra Augusta, which is leading efforts to restore the historic theater, and assembled a team. Greenbrier High School seniors Kathryn Bonner, Lizzie Derr and Zachary Lewallen agreed to make Music for the Miller their senior project, too. We divided responsibilities and went to work.
Come show time Saturday, we hope to prove that four teenagers can produce a landmark event.
Music for the Miller is a multimedia show that involves more than 20 performing arts groups. Radio personality Helen Blocker-Adams is set to serve as host for the evening, and The Augusta Chronicle's country music columnist, Don Rhodes, and Friends of the Miller President Mike Deas will speak on why the Miller Theatre is important.
A group of teenagers led by music director Stacy Reynolds will re-create notable performances that took place at the Miller Theatre. Lizzie is the choreographer.
"These numbers are sprinkled throughout the show, and their goal is to get the audience singing along and on their feet," Lizzie said. "These kids will blow your mind."
Bands, singers, lyrical dancers, musical theatre troupes, belly dancers, actors and spoken-word poets are all set to compete in a talent competition.
Kathryn has organized a silent auction that will also benefit the Miller's restoration. Kathryn, with help from her mentor, Angela Hillesland, of Jim Hudson Lexus, also recruited product donations and monetary sponsorships from area businesses.
"The auction has gift baskets, event tickets, artwork and gift certificates," Kathryn said. "People will have to bring some extra cash for this."
"Save the Miller" T-shirts and concessions will be for sale.
Regarding our goal of the fundraiser, I am optimistic, not naive. We will not raise the millions needed to light the Miller up again.
It's OK, though: Music for the Miller is meant to raise awareness and educate my generation about the importance of the Miller Theatre.
Four teens from Columbia County all agree that "it is time" for the Miller to reopen, shouldn't you?
Michael Ryan is a member of The Augusta Chronicle's Teen Board and a senior at Greenbrier High School.
MUSIC FOR THE MILLER
WHEN: Saturday; doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
TICKETS: $8 at the door
WHERE: West Acres Baptist Church, 555 Gibbs Road, Evans
CALL: (706) 832-2360