Media Life: Auburn’s State Theater head count bodes well for future

Film festival will have female focus; “Wonderful Life” radio play to return for Christmas; Cool’s image burnished by international web mention
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The State Theater has had many more hits than misses in the less than 20-month time-span since it opened its doors for live shows and films. For a venue that can smoosh in a maximum of maybe 140 souls without the fire marshal going ballistic, the number of people who have made their way to the stately State has been impressive. In fact, the State Theater’s owner – the non-profit Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center group – is trumpeting the fact that it has already crossed the 7,000 mark threshold in attendance, while putting in a plug for its eventual goal of transforming the whole performance space into a 500-seat facility. When it comes to hits, nothing has really topped the reception the Lincoln Way theater in the heart of Downtown Auburn is getting for its monthly movie lineup. The third Thursday “Cinema at the State Theater” has become a sold-out success story and has now expanded into a second Sunday screening. And last spring’s Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival was another big draw, with a near sell-out for a lineup of classic movies from the suspense master. The suspense is off plans for next year’s festival theme. Some of Hollywood’s biggest female stars will be featured in what is being billed as the “Reel Classy Broads” festival. Next year’s third Thursday lineup is also continuing the State Theater goal of bringing audiences together with some of the best movies of all time. Look for “Singing in the Rain,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Like Water for Chocolate” to grace the big screen at the State in 2011, the arts group is announcing. Live entertainment has also been a big draw at the State Theater since operations started there in April 2009. At this juncture, some of the top draws and sold out shows have included performances by Blame Sally & Jill Knight, Steve Seskin, Craig Carothers and Don Henry, Ray Obiedo and Mambo Caribe. The Nov. 19 visit by acoustic duo David Jacobs-Strain and longtime Auburn favorite Joe Craven is on track to add another sell-out to the list. “We opened our doors last year with a skeleton crew of volunteers who believed in what we were doing,” APPAC President Paul Ogden said. He credits Administrative Coordinator Janis Wikoff and volunteer Technical Coordinator Tony Broadbent, as well as his board, volunteers and support from the public for giving the revitalized State Theater some heartening initial success. Success has been contagious and as people see what’s happening at the venue, they’re getting excited, Ogden said. New Yule tradition back Auburn’s newest tradition – started on a whim and a prayer last year – is back at the State Theater for a second year. The locally casted “It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show” turned out to be so wonderful that it’s ready for an encore, with much of the original cast intact. There will be an evening show Dec. 10 and then two afternoon performances on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12. All three dates last year were sell-outs. Glenda Gonzales is the show’s director and known to generations of Placer High School musical fans for the work she did there. Cool on the map again The community of Cool, across the sometimes-misty canyon from Auburn, is getting some attention from a worldwide audience with its mention on the travel site as one of those communities with an unforgettable moniker. Lumped in with Hell, Mich. and Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! in the province of Quebec, Canada, Cool is described as the epitome of California’s smugness. “As if the place worshipped as the land of trendsetters and beautiful people needed any more ego boost, California is also home to a village that’s simply known as ‘Cool,’” the “Places With Bizarre Names” article by Christl Dabu theorizes. Luckily, Dabu does go into some background on the original Mr. Cool – actually the Rev. Aaron Cool, who ministered to Gold Rush-era settlers as a traveling preacher.