One of the few remaining links to Pocomoke’s past is the Mar-Va Theater. Its name is representative of its location, since the theater is located in Maryland, only a short distance from the Virginia state line. With originally 720 seats, the Mar-Va is the largest theater south of Wilmington, Delaware, which has never been altered. Once used as a vaudeville theater complete with stage facilities, dressing rooms and orchestra pits, the Mar-Va was played by many famous performers, which included some old-time cowboys such as Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Hop-a-Long Cassidy and Smiley Burnett.
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Barlett of Berlin, MD built the Mar-Va Theater in 1927. Made from the finest materials, it has been estimated that it would probably cost around $250,000 by present economic standards.
The Mar-Va Theater is one of the few theaters on the shore to boast of a draw drape. The sidewalls have the original gold embossed paneling and the projectors, which were added around 1943, are of the carbon arc variety. The balcony was once used for segregation purposes. It had its own entrance, concession area, box office and bathroom. The seats in the balcony were considered the best in the theater.
The theater opened on December 1, 1927 with John & Lester Fox managing the theater while J. Dawson Clarke played the piano for the old silent movies. In 1949, after the death of John Fox, J. Dawson Clarke and Orville Mason bought the theater and in 1967, the ownership went to Dawson and his wife, Hattie.
When the theater originally opened, ticket prices were 10 cents. At the time of its closing in 1993, a ticket cost $3.50. Soda pop, sold in the soda parlor next door, once cost 10 cents and popcorn was always sold for 10 cents a bag.
We desire the public to be vitally involved in this project. We are open to suggestions and ideas. Currently, seats are being offered for “sale” at $200 each. Donors will have a permanent nameplate affixed to the back of their seat. Donors of $500 or more will be featured on the permanent plaque to be mounted in the lobby.
The Mar-Va Theater is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Association of Community Theaters (AACT), and the Education Theatre Association (EdTA).
For more information on how you can help in the renovation of the Mar-Va Theater or if you are interested in the performing arts locally, please visit our Support page or our Contact page.