The Lighthouse Repertory Theatre purchasing and refurbishing the former sounds like a smash hit to us. As of Monday, the repertory theatre group began a 120-day escrow of the closed theater on G Street downtown. The theater group now needs to raise $120,000 to close to deal. If successful, the theater group would remodel the building so it could host productions there, both of its own making and for guest performers.

Keeping the theater open makes sense for downtown Crescent City. It would serve as a cultural attraction that could offer a variety of performances - such as children's shows, small venue musicians and foreign films - for the benefit of local residents and tourists alike. It's another piece of the economic puzzle in revitalizing downtown: Give people a reason to come to the retail district, and more restaurants and stores will follow them.

Refurbishing Red's as a multi-purpose performance theater is the best future for the building. Given today's competitive movie theater climate, Crescent City isn't going to be able to support a another silver screen venue showing the latest blockbuster - or one that's just been released on DVD or is on HBO. That means Red's likely fate is to become just another empty building downtown. That doesn't have to happen, however. A number of communities across America have successfully remodeled old, landmark theaters into popular local and regional venues that keep local traditions alive. A good nearby example is The Rogue Valley Theatre in Grants Pass, Ore.

The Lighthouse Repertory Theatre would be an ideal group to handle Red's refurbishing. The 30 year-old theater group has steadily increased its number of annual shows and number of participants; the current board is young and energetic.

Of course, going from theater performers to theater operators is a big leap. The theater group ultimately will need to ensure it has the expertise to oversee the remodeling and operation of such a facility.

For the moment, however, the challenge is to get Red's into the theater group's hands. You can help make that a reality with a donation. Contact Joan Buhler, the repertory theatre's president, at 465-2440.