A pre-dawn fire damaged the interior of Garden Grove’s historic Gem Theatre on Main Street Monday, but the operators of the facility said the blaze wouldn’t keep them from staging the planned premiere of the musical “Chicago” this weekend.
The fire was contained to the interior of the building, which dates date to the 1920s and began as a vaudeville and silent picture venue. After a half-century as a movie theater, it was renovated and reopened in 1979 for live performances.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” said Damien Lorton, artistic director of One More Productions, which stages musicals in the downtown building located at 12852 Main St.
“The fire seems to be contained in the costume room. We lost a lot of costumes, but the stage and the lighting and seats all seem intact,” he said. “The show will go on.”
Details of the blaze were still unavailable Monday morning. There were no injuries and the fire was brought under control before it could damage any adjacent buildings, including the adjacent annex structure used by the Shakespeare Orange County troupe.
There was no indication of a connection between the fire and the Strawberry Festival event, now being held at the Village Green Park.
According to Lorton, OMP has insurance on the building and its contents. Powerful blower fans should remove the smell of smoke.
“Whether it’s in the theater or in the parking lot under a tent, the show will go on,” said Lorton. Producer Nicole Cassesso added “Now, more than ever, it’s important that people come out our support theater in the community.”
“Chicago” is slated to open Thursday and continue through June 26.