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Experience it live

By: Megan Sanders Journal Correspondent
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After a 30-year absence, live performances are coming back to the State Theater. The Downtown Auburn theater has been the focus of a community-wide volunteer effort to re-create an entertainment venue. The nonprofit Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center committee has been working for months to bring back live performances as well as movies to the theater. “The ultimate goal is a fully equipped community arts center,” said Paul Ogden, board president. Thanks to a fundraising campaign and the help of dozens of volunteers, they now have a 124-seat theater with a stage and movie screen. Ogden said it’s hoped the theater will eventually seat 500-600, but financing such a major expansion is not within their budget at the moment. Volunteers strive to keep some of the original State Theater’s historic charm. Ogden said some of the original art deco finish work may be revealed when they get further into remodeling the theater. They have restored the original paint color and fabric that was on the walls and the original curtain around the screen. “It is our hope to get it back to the 1930s deco look,” Ogden said. Ogden said his goal is to inspire people in a small way and show them what can be done on a larger scale. “It is amazing how many theater groups and entertainers have come to us,” Ogden said. They have theater events scheduled into next year and Ogden said they will have a brochure coming out soon. Numerous volunteers have put many hours into renovating and restoring the theater. Bart Ruud, a board member of Auburn Community Concert Association, worked on the stage along with many other Auburn residents. “I am thrilled that this is happening,” Ruud said. Ruud also said he fully supports what they are trying to do and that the arts have a huge positive influence on children. “I am very pleased that the community will have a performing arts center,” Ruud said. They will also be showing movies once a month at the theater. At the moment the screen is visible in the middle of the stage. The movies they will be showing will most likely be classic films along with a few documentaries. “It is a different experience than watching them at home,” Ogden said. “Food Inc.,” a documentary about food safety and the importance of nutrition, will be playing at the theater next month. APPAC has received many donations from Auburn residents who have helped them with this project. Ogden said they have received individual donations from $25 to a $10,000 grant from Union Pacific Railroad. “Our goal is to develop a support base,” Ogden said. He said that support base numbers about 350 so far. He also said that they would like to celebrate the re-opening in the fall. “We would like to make it nice,” Ogden said. Shop owners near the theater have had positive things to say about the transformation and the upcoming live performance. “We need these kinds of things in Downtown,” said Denise Cardona, owner of Kid’s Closet on Lincoln Way. Adele Wise, the owner of Wildflower, agrees. “It would be wonderful,” Wise said. “A nice addition to the community.” Many people have not had the chance to see a live performance at a theater before. “I have not been to one, but I would like to,” Cardona said. Nancy Blue, a jazz vocalist, will be performing on Saturday and will be accompanied by Jerry Hekhuis. Her performance will be the first on the brand-new stage. Brenda Lindley will be directing the live performance of “Mid-Life: The ‘Crisis’ Musical,” the next event at the theater. She said “Mid-Life” is a series of sketches that covers what people go through as they get older. It discusses issues from both men’s and women’s views. It has a cast of 10 people and seven out of the 10 are local. “It’s just hilarious,” Lindley said. She said she tried for a long time to get the rights to the play and finally succeeded. “It is perfect for our group and for our community,” Lindley said. The musical opens Friday, Aug. 7, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 22. On Saturday, Aug. 8th there will be a grand-opening celebration for the musical. They will have complimentary hors d’oeuvres, beverages and valet parking. “It will be a red-carpet affair,” Lindley said. The Journal’s Megan Sanders can be reached at megans@goldcountrymedia.com.