By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
The curtain just might … might … be going up at Garden Grove’s Gem Theater soon.
After many delays and much work in the aftermath of the May 2011 fire that caused heavy damage to the historic Main Street facility, the doors could open as soon as March, according to Kimberly Huy, community services director for the City of Garden Grove.
“We’ve just finished getting de-tagged by Southern California Edison,” she said, referring to electrical repairs that needed to be made at the 155-seat theater, which is approaching 100 years in the community. The result was the restoration of electrical power.
“That’s a big step toward being ready to reopen.”
The resident company at the theater, One More Productions, is planning on a grand re-opening in March, she said. “They usually have a fund-raiser in February, ‘Hearts for the Arts,’ but we missed that. They may have another fund-raising event.”
Because the insurance pays to repair and replace, when the Gem re-opens it won’t look very different from how patrons remember it, she said. Two differences will be handicapped access restrooms and a new lighting system, approved by the Garden Grove City Council Tuesday night at a cost of over $49,000.
“We allocated $40,000 for new lighting from the city’s cultural arts fund in 2010,” said Huy. When the new lighting went out to bid, the lowest bidder was at the higher figure, so the city will be paying nearly $10,000 from other sources for the project.
The Gem was established as a silent film and vaudeville house in the 1920s before becoming a regular cinema in the 1930s. It closed in the Seventies and was purchased by the City of Garden Grove, which converted it into a live-stage theater.
One More Productions stages musical comedies there, such as “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and “Damn Yankees.”