Memories remain as theater torn down |

Memories remain as theater torn down

Eileen JoyceThe City Center Playhouse in Grass Valley has a long history. It is to be demolished to make way for a motel.
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My heart breaks. Our theater is going to be torn down. I did my first play there in 1991. I will do the last play there this month, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I wish I could say that a bigger and more luxurious theater was going to be built there, but that is not the case. A motel will replace it.

The City Center Playhouse on Bank Street in Grass Valley was formally and fondly known as The Studio Theatre for 40 years. Upstairs is Nelda and Lennie’s Dance Studio. Many veteran Nevada County residents and their children took ballet or tap from Nelda and Lennie. The Nutcracker Ballet was performed every Christmas, and The June Show every summer.

The theater offered first-timers, including me back then, a chance to shine in the spotlight. All plays were family oriented, and many, many musicals were performed. The seats and carpet were replaced; the lights were reset over and over again. The stage was sanded and varnished a few times.

The backstage area bears the scars of shows gone by. Babies were born and people died in the last 11 years that I have been at the theater. We had memorial services there.

The theater is freezing cold in the winter and during rehearsals we always bundled up, wore gloves, and brought hot tea.

Rehearsals started 12 weeks prior to opening night, and the average run was four weekends. We practically lived in the theater during those times. We knew every nick in the stage floorboards. As we painted our sets, we reminisced as we covered the paint from the last show.

I did three shows a year there for many years. That theater was such a big part of my life. That theater is a part of me that will never fade, even after it is gone.

My heart is broken at the loss of this Grass Valley icon. I can overcome my loss but our theater group, Chris Harada Productions, cannot survive without a theater.

We now understand the tremendous loss that the Off Broad Street Theater group suffered when their theater burned down.

I ask for help from the community. Please express displeasure at the loss of a historical theater in trade for commercialism in the building of a motel. Please remember the theater in some way, either by attending our last show or by writing a letter like I am.

I also ask that you help us find another venue. Our shows are nonprofit and we do it for the love of it. We are all volunteers and we perform to make you smile and cry and feel. Thank you.

Barbara Lynn-Gilberg lives in Grass Valley

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