Out with the old, in with the new | TheUnion.com

Out with the old, in with the new

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer

Two local theater companies will be playing a game of musical chairs in the next week.

Mike and Barbara Getz purchased 545 brand-new seats from American Cinema Equipment for Sierra Cinemas, which they own in addition to the Del Oro Theatre and Sutton Cinemas, all of which are part of Sierra Theaters.

Getz, who has also operated the Sunday night showings of the Nevada Theatre Film Series for 35 years, donated the used seats and cost of removal and installation to the Nevada Theatre.

"Having run this film series for 35 years, I have a real affection for the Nevada Theatre, so we decided to pay for the installation," he said.

The new seats at Sierra Cinemas have been gradually installed during the past week with expected completion Saturday.

The number of seats in the theater will be reduced from 700 to 545 for the comfort of the customer, Getz said, adding the new seats are wider with a higher back and will be arranged to give patrons more space between the rows.

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The Nevada Theatre also anticipates offering more comfortable seats to its patrons with the former Sierra Cinemas chairs, said Nevada Theatre Commission President Ron Spiller.

"Our seats are OK, but they're old and old fashioned, certainly not as comfortable as the seats we'll be getting from Sierra Cinemas," he said, adding the new seats will be better positioned toward the stage. "Plus they will have cupholders."

The seats that are being removed were purchased in 1963 from a theater company in Marysville and are available in rows or individually for $10 each.

"We're trying to find people who would love to have a part of the Nevada Theatre's history," said Nevada Theatre Commission Vice President Kathy Hillis.

The Nevada Theatre opened in the fall of 1865 and is the oldest working theater in California, she said, adding that it was remodeled for use as a movie house in 1909 until the 1950s. It closed in 1958 with the popularity of television.

What was then known as the Nevada County Liberal Arts Commission formed in 1963 and raised community funds to purchase, renovate and reopen the building, which has remained intact.

Several years ago, people donated money to "own" a chair, and a plaque was placed on the backs of chairs, Hillis said, all of which will be preserved and placed on a framed memorial display.

Various community members also helped with the chairs, including an anonymous Nevada City man who donated space to store the chairs; Lock Richards, managing director of Sperry Van Ness Highland Commercial, who helped locate that donor; and Grass Valley U-Haul on Main Street, which donated trucks to transport the seats.

"The community is really stepping up for this, which we appreciate very much," Spiller said.

The chairs will be removed Monday morning, with installation expected afterward throughout the week, said Nevada Theatre Commissioner Bruce Stuart, adding the chairs have been bolted down to the floor of the Nevada Theatre to stay in place but are flat and can stand on their own. Stuart will be at the theatre Friday and Saturday if people would like to look at and reserve the seats.

To purchase a chair, contact Stuart at 530-477-5358 or Spiller at 530-272-4679.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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