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Local treasure: Historic Nevada Theatre beautified and open for business

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector

A historic building does not stand the test of time without a bit of care-taking and even more innovation. The Nevada Theatre, located on Broad Street in Nevada City, is no exception. Built in 1865, the historic landmark — closed down for about a decade in the 1950s — has served the cultural needs of the community ever since.

Nevada Theatre Commission President Jane Primrose has been at the helm of the board for about five years. She said she does it out of a Iove for live performance art and film.

“The Nevada Theatre is an incredible resource. We want to make sure the building stays intact. This is an historic dwelling, so it is really important that it is well cared for, but we also want to provide a venue for the community to be able to do whatever they want in the way of performance art. So, it needs to be well equipped and well cared for because people rent the theater to basically create their dreams on stage.”



While the venue was forced to close in March of 2020 during the pandemic, a lot happened behind closed doors.

“We stayed closed for a year and a half,” explained Primrose. “We anticipated we might be closed down for a while, so we cut our staff and turned down the heat and we locked the doors. And we were closed. But in the meantime, we started doing projects.”



Some of those projects included reorganizing the space, painting and recarpeting dressing rooms and other small projects, working on the assumption that the theater would, eventually, be allowed to reopen, and then an anonymous donor came forward with a plan to beautify the interior.

“They had a vision of creating a mural inside the theater and redoing the whole lobby area,” said Primrose. “The entire interior of the Nevada Theatre has been muraled and the lobby has been equipped with new counters. All the walls have been repainted. It’s all been done in an art deco style. It is just stunningly beautiful. We were extremely fortunate. It’s what we consider our silver lining.”

Primrose said while the theater highlights performing artists, this was a way to support and display the visual arts. “These are visual artists who finally got to have their way with the Nevada Theatre and create a masterpiece!”

Funded through grants and contributions, rental income is also a large part of the budget. People can rent the venue to present a wide variety of productions from fully produced plays to concerts, to variety shows. Primrose said they are fortunate to have a full calendar which kicks off again this weekend with burlesque.

Cabaret show this weekend

Truth or Dare Productions presents “Nevada City Cabaret: Be My After Valentine Date” on Friday, Feb. 18.

“The idea behind the show is whether your Valentine’s Day went really well, and you want to keep it going, or if it went really bad and you need a do-over, this is the opportunity,” said co-producer Nick Federoff.

“It’s our season premiere. Our first show of 2022. We’ve got a bunch of people coming from out of town and we’ve got a bunch of our regular Truth or Dare hardcore performers, and then I have graduates of ‘Truth or Dare Cybil Unrest School of Undress’ with four brand new students performing for the first time,” added co-founder Heather Bewsee. “And I also have a male performer who is graduating and doing his first solo ever.” There will be some 15 performers taking the stage.

Both principals’ emphasized burlesque is not about having the ideal body but in having confidence with the body you have and expressing it through performance. If this is intriguing, Bewsee said she teaches a class every Thursday. More information is available at youcanburlesque.com.

For tickets and more information go to https://www.truthordareproductions.com/.

Moving house

In addition to live performance, the Nevada Theatre was also known as a movie house. Silent films screened in the theater as early as 1908 and movies have been shown on and off ever since. In a return to those roots, Primrose announced a planned improvement in partnership with the Onyx Movie Theatre, also in Nevada City.

“It’s going to be a super cinematic experience with 10 speakers under the balcony. You will hear every word on the screen. It’s going to be an amazing experience,” said Primrose. Part of the funding comes through a Nevada County Resilience Grant and the rest is covered by a donor. Primrose said the movies will have the quality and feel of The Onyx with a few more seats.

Other upcoming bookings include the postponed “Happy Birthday Janis!” concert taking place Saturday, Feb. 19, with Sue Legate Halford and company throwing a musical celebration of all things Joplin and other songs from that era. And in March, Sierra Stages will present a fully produced play, “Tiny, Beautiful Things,” by Cheryl Strayed and directed by Sands Hall.

For rental information and a calendar of events go to their website https://nevadatheatre.com.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com

MORE INFO

For rental information and a calendar of events, visit the Nevada Theatre’s website at https://nevadatheatre.com

ON THE COVER

Nevada Theatre mural artists, from left, Brianna French, Sarah Coleman and Miles Toland

Photo by Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Artists Brianna French, left, and Sarah Coleman stand before their work in the newly painted Nevada Theatre.
Provided photo
Artist Miles Toland working on the ceiling of the Nevada Theatre.
Provided photo
Truth or Dare Productions presents “Nevada City Cabaret: Be My After Valentine Date” on Friday, Feb. 18.
Photo by Kim Sayre Photography
“The idea behind the show is whether your Valentine’s Day went really well, and you want to keep it going, or if it went really bad and you need a do-over, this is the opportunity,” said co-producer Nick Federoff.
Photo by Kim Sayre Photography
For tickets and more information go to https://www.truthordareproductions.com/.
Photo by Kim Sayre Photography

 

The Nevada Theatre on Broadstreet in downtown Nevada City.
Provided photo
Entertainment

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