CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Comedian and former talk show host Jay Leno is coming to Clarksburg.

Leno will be part of the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center’s Grand Opening on October 20th.

“Jay Leno is a good fit for our Grand Opening Event because he is a blue collar comedian at heart and enjoys entertaining down-to-earth and hard-working folks like those we have here in West Virginia,” said the Robinson Grand’s executive director Ryan Tolley. “We know he will be engaged in our project here and his performance will become a landmark memory for the theater.”

At now 90-plus percent completion, the long-awaited renovation of the Robinson Grand will celebrate a soft opening early next month ahead of its formal event in October.

“Our concept for soft opening is that we want to do an open house and highlight local and regional artists and give everybody a chance to see the facility,” Tolley said. “The grand opening will be a more formal, major ticketed event.”

Tolley said only a few final elements will be coming into the theater over the final weeks, such as seating, curtain systems and light fixtures.

“Those things have kind of waited until now just because of dust and other construction materials,” he said. “It’s best for them to come in last, but most of everything else is finished.”

What received the most applause, however, was the addition of the marquee to the theater’s front on Pike Street.

“The frame was out there and they’d been working on that over the last few months, but the actual signs themselves arrived about two weeks ago,” Tolley said. “Their crane lifted it into place and then last week, they actually turned on the signs briefly just to test all the items, to make sure through shipment all the video elements as well as the light bulbs were functioning.”

Tolley said he had the opportunity to be there for the test and was pleasantly surprised to learn of all the pre-loaded functions that come with the marquee.

“They were running through some presets that really had the thing going, I mean, rainbow patterns and everything,” he said. “The LED lights we can program in anyway, as well as the video boards, so I think on nights when there’s not a show it’ll be a little toned down, but it’ll still be an opportunity to advertise what’s coming up, all the upcoming events and everything like that. Then of course on a show night, we’ll turn it up and kind of customize it based on what’s going on that evening.”

Not only is the theater physically ready for unveiling, but staff has been running smoothly since new additions were added earlier this month.

Emily Moore and Bobby Rexroad were welcomed as sales and marketing manager and operations manager respectively. Moore was formerly the theater and English teacher at Robert C. Byrd High School, where she successfully ran their theater program for six years.

“Once we had a chance to sit down and interview with her, it was great to feel that energy and enthusiasm,” Tolley said. “She had so many great ideas and spoke so highly of the Robinson Grand and what it can be. It just seemed like a great fit.”

Rexroad comes is a native of Bridgeport and worked most recently in business consulting. A graduate of Full Sail University, a prestigious entertainment and media university in Florida, he has worked for FMA Live and for Palm Beach Staging and Production prior to the Robinson Grand.

Currently, Tolley says the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center is already about 80 percent booked for 2018. That includes not only concerts and comedy shows like their opening night but a variety of events.

“We have your standard social events, which would be birthday parties, reunions, graduations,” he said. “Weddings are a big one. We have a number of those on the books now, and that’s not just the dance and dinner which is great in our ballroom, but it’s also the ceremony. I’ve spoken with a number of individuals that have some really creative ideas of how to utilize our performance hall and actually hold the ceremony.”

As for opening night, an after-party will follow Leno’s performance, with entertainment by the internationally-acclaimed Canadian rock band, The Guess Who. The grand opening will begin at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit The Robinson Grand.

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