Miami Theater Center: Out With the Racism, In With Bing and Fred Astaire

Sixty-six years ago a movie theater opened on NE Second Avenue and 98th Street. It later died-- a victim of megaplexes and the Village Beautiful's history of racism. But on Saturday, it reopened -- with the same movie.

Got that? 

"Blue Skies,"  a classic Fred Astaire/Bing Crosby flick that debuted when the Shores Theater opened in 1946, again flickered on the screen at the theater at NE 98th Street and Second Avenue. About 200 people were present for the christening of the Miami Theater Center. They paid $10 a shot.

"Success," is the way that Stephanie Ansin, honcho of Playground Theater and one of the partners in the venture, put it. She is a host of the project and got quite some applause Saturday

"History," added O Cinema directo, Kareem Tabsch, who is bringing programmiong from his O Cinema to the new joint.

The film was dandy. part of a big street fair in the Shores -- and the beginning to months of programming that will provide a whole new dimension to the local arts scene. 

As interesting is the history. Miami Shores outlawed movies in the 1980s, a reaction to the riots that shook the city in those years. One lawyer, who worked for months to get the village to change its mind about films, attributed that measure to racism -- "wanting tio keep "the wrong element out of the village that is just five minutes north of Overtown but a world away.

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After two years of lobbying, and strong support from a gay commissioner, Jesse Walters -- living proof that a long history fo exclusion in the Shores is over -- the place will produce both theater and film.

We wish it good luck. And if it can boast anything near the success it had on Saturday, it will succeed.

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