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Mark your calendar: Sept. 25

The Virginia Theatre passed a huge test Wednesday as it prepares to finally reopen to the public.

The popcorn machine still works.

“It’s been a long time since we used it,” public-relations manager Mitch Marlow said. “We wanted to make sure.”

There was a buzz Thursday inside the downtown Champaign theater as work continued ahead of “Opening Night” on Sept. 25. The free-of-charge (popcorn included), no-tickets-required community event will mark the first time since March 2020 that the Virginia’s doors have swung open.

The lineup starts at 5 p.m. and includes nine artists playing on Park Avenue and on stage, tours of the renovated building and — at 7 — a showing of a News-Gazette Film Series entry: Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” featuring live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren of the Silent Film Society of Chicago.

Experts from John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders were tuning the whopper of a Wurlitzer on Thursday.

“Opening Night” originally was the third event on the revamped schedule behind Gordon Lightfoot (injury) and Ebertfest (postponed).

“Now it really is opening night,” Marlow said. “Everything’s free because we wanted to have something to give back to the community for waiting so long.”

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