Apollo Theater movie set for ‘Get On Up’ to come down

Published 2:33 am Saturday, November 11, 2017


NATCHEZ — Additions to the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center auditorium that made the room resemble the Apollo Theater for the filming of a James Brown biopic will be removed after nearly four years.

The renovations came in January of 2014 for the filming of “Get On Up,” but remained for years to follow at the request of the city and Natchez Festival of Music officials.

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The additions to the auditorium were always meant to be temporary, but Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said Monday they would finally have to come down.

“I, personally, thought it really enhanced the auditorium,” Grennell said.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees had the final say on the building, which is a designated a Mississippi Landmark.

The mayor said he pushed for the set designs to remain, justifying to the MDAH that the filming of the movie had, itself, become a part of the building’s history.

MDAH Division Director Jim Woodrick said the trustees appreciated Grennell’s stance, but that the only choice was to remove the additions as originally intended.

“The main reason that we, the board, have consistently determined that they need to be removed is because that changes the character of the original auditorium, and it is part of our mission to preserve buildings as they were intended to be,” Woodrick said. “Mayor Grennell … made a very good argument for keeping them, (noting) the enhancement of the city and of the auditorium, but again, it came down to the original configuration of the auditorium.”

Woodrick said this case does not imply that no changes can ever be made to historic buildings, but in this instance, he said making permanent set designs intended to be temporary in the first place did not make sense.

Part of the additions included the installation of two temporary balconies, alongside a host of other ornaments that adorned the auditorium.

Natchez Building Inspector Jody Rutter said the city was in discussions with a local contractor to have the designs removed. As of Wednesday afternoon, Rutter said he did not have a precise cost estimate for the removal, but he believed the total cost would not exceed $10,000 and could be as low as $4,000 or $5,000.