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Turn Red's into arts center

Debbie Hemmingsen sings and dances as Reverend Mother in the Lighthouse Repertory Theatre's production of "Nunsense" last year at Crescent Elk Auditorium. The theater company hopes to purchase and renovate Red's Twin Cinema theater as a performing arts center. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).
Debbie Hemmingsen sings and dances as Reverend Mother in the Lighthouse Repertory Theatre's production of "Nunsense" last year at Crescent Elk Auditorium. The theater company hopes to purchase and renovate Red's Twin Cinema theater as a performing arts center. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).

If you haven't heard the news by now, you are not reading The Daily Triplicate or listening to KCRE/KPOD. Yes, the news is out: Lighthouse Repertory Theatre is in the process of buying Red's Twin Cinema theater.

This is a huge undertaking for LRT and a big diversion for an organization that has focused for the last 29 years on continuously producing quality plays and musicals.

This purchase is not entered into lightly. The dream to have our own buildinghas been on the back burner for several years, and now the timing is right. The community is enthusiastically behind us as demonstrated with donations coming in along with words of encouragement. LRT just moved to the front burner.

All this does not happen without a lot of planning and dedication on the part of the LRT Board of Directors. We are working with Barbara Burke at the Small Business Development Center to createagood business plan. Of course, with the additional monthly expense, we will be producing more plays, renting the building to the community for their events and looking into hosting a movie series for classic, foreign or art films. We still have the two projectors from Red's.

It's time (in a year or two) to give Crescent Elk Auditorium back to the schools. The school district and Crescent Elk have been most cooperative in scheduling our productions and rehearsals around school and other community events.We, in exchange, have provided theatrical improvements that the school district needed but couldn't fund.But let's face it folks, it is time that this community had another performing arts center.

Revitalize downtown

The opening of a theater in the downtown district could be a shot in the arm for a dinner restaurant serving meals before the theater and coffee and tea afterwards. The theater could help revitalize and energize more retail in the redevelopment area. It will be a while, perhaps a year, before we can be open for business. There's lots to be done.

First, we must revamp the interior by taking down the dividing wall then addressing the issue of lead-based paint and asbestos.A new fire exit must be installed to make the building safefor everyone. The rest rooms must be made ADA accessible, and the wiring needs extensive updating, stage lights must be installed and a sound boothcreated at the auditorium level.Of course, every theater needs a stage and place for a pit orchestra.

The overall plan will take upwards of $500,000.That is divided into the purchase price is $288,000 purchase price with the remaining $212,000 for restoration. Yes, it is a big project, but it is what the downtown area needs, and it is what LRT is willing to work for.

With your help we can do it. All donations to the building fund are deposited into our endowment fund through Wild Rivers Foundation.These funds are to be used on the building and restoration only.Currently we are seeking grants and contributions both monetary and in-kind. We have had three fundraisers so far, and they were all successful.The Choral Concert raised $2,600, the Masquerade Ball netted from $6,000 to $8,000 (The bills are not all in at this point). The last fun event was the Ladies Only pajama party.The final count is not in on that one.On July 22, a poker tournament is planned at the Elk Valley Casino.More publicity will come later as details are finalized.

Get involved

We will receive an anonymous grant for $10,000 from an out-of -town donor.The Crescent City Soroptimist Club has donated $5,000 with a challenge to all service clubs to meet or exceed that amount.

LRT is a totally volunteer organization and has always been volunteer.Our board meetings are the second Tuesday of very month and anyone can attend. Each August we have a general meeting to elect new board members and to review the year's accomplishments.The exact day or location is not yet determined but information will be available by calling the LRT phone 465-3740 or my number 465-2440.

How to Donate

Donations will be accepted through Lighthouse Repertory Theatre, P.O. 171, Crescent City, Calif., 95531, or call Buhler at 465-2440, Katherine Gurney at 465-5765 or Stephanie LaTorre at 464-5689.

Joan Buhler is president of Lighthouse Repertory Theatre.

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