Instant Vox Pop - Riverside Entertainment News
R&B legend Etta James dies at 73 in Riverside hospital
Radiohead, Black Keys, Dr. Dre and Snoop to headline Coachella
Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Madness and dozens more slated for identical lineups on two April weekends. [Watch]
Turn your clocks back one hour
Fox adds Jeffrey Osborne; Paul Rodriguez with Los Lobos
Comic and Grammy-winning band team to raise money for Cesar Chavez statue. [Watch]
Fox promoter Cathy Rigby adds reprise of Peter Pan role to lineup
B.B. King, Pat Benatar, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience and "The Matchmaker" also added to lineup. [Watch]
Identity electronic festival moved from Devore to Hollywood Palladium
Sept. 4 show to feature Pretty Lights, Steve Aoki, Crystal Method, Pete Tong and more. [Watch]
Kaskade headlining two-day Nocturnal Wonderland at National Orange Show
Lineup features Avicii, Dirty South, Fedde le Grand, Sebastian Ingrosso and more. [Watch]
Crystal Method, Pretty Lights set for Identity Festival's Devore stop
General admission tickets $20 this weekend only. [Watch]
Partial fall lineup announced for Fox Performing Arts Center
Kenny Loggins, Jon Secada, Leon Russell, Dr. John and Howie Mandel [Watch]
PBS making cuts to staff; KVCR-TV remains local affiliate
Rascal Flatts' Flatts Fest to feature Sara Evans, Justin Moore in Devore
Luis Miguel, Rascal Flatts to play San Manuel Amphitheater
Judas Priest brings farewell tour to Devore
Tickets on sale Saturday for Oct. 22 show. [Watch]
Coachella to expand to two weekends in 2012
Tickets go on sale Friday; lineup has not been announced. [Watch]
Kirk Whalum added to Friday's Bob James show at the Fox
Upcoming shows include Weird Al Yankovic and Peter Frampton. [Watch]
Kris Kristofferson to replace Loretta Lynn at Stagecoach
Kanye West dominates final day of Coachella with powerful statement
Meanwhile, Duran Duran -- yes, Duran Duran -- gets hip and symphonic as eclectic festival closes. [Watch]
Festival is the big star on the first day of Coachella 2011
Tardy Cee Lo Green has his set cut short; arts shine. [Watch]
Sore throat doesn't deter Burt Bacharach at Fox Performing Arts Center
Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West headline Coachella 2011
Chemical Brothers, Cee-Lo, PJ Harvey and more on Indio bill. [Watch]
Riverside Art Museum features Members’ Mini Exhibition
Palin's daughter announces engagement; Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston back together
Lindsay Lohan to go to jail for 90 days: the "teachable moment"
Rock the Bells Festival set for National Orange Show Events Center
Review: Indio's 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival entertainers stranded by airport problems in Europe and the United Kingdom
Whitney Houston's comeback tour filled with problems
Eagles to reunite; band to perform at Ontario Citizens Bank Arena
2010 Coachella Music Festival includes some rule changes this year
Riverside's Fox Performing Arts Center opens; renovation finished
Abbey Road 2.0; recording studio best known as the musical home of the Beatles
CBS canceling "As the World Turns"
Storied soap will vanish from television. [Watch]
U2 brings massive crowd to the Rose Bowl
Fans estimated at 96,000. [Watch]
Phish Festival 8 at Empire Polo Field in Indio
Three-day festival begins this weekend. [Watch]
U2's Rose Bowl show opened with Black Eyed Peas
The night was a surprisingly intimate romance between the crowd and Bono. [Watch]
U2's Phoenix show includes McCain family in audience
Tour dazzles with huge claw containing lights, speakers and a circular video screen dropping into the middle of stadiums. [Watch]
Live Nation's latest bargain -- a club pass
Sure, there are a couple of catches, but it could turn into a great deal. [Watch]
OK, so now we feel sorry for Kanye
Near-tears apology on 'Leno' followed by word that Obama apparently called West a 'jackass.' [Watch]
Grace Corbet Kisner
Riverside's Fox Performing Arts Center opens; renovation finished
Proving that they do indeed give a damn, hundreds of Riverside’s elite ponied up $150 for hors d’oeuvres, champagne and a first peek at the renovated Fox Theater on Friday night.
The venue, first opened in 1929 as the Riverside Theatre to offer vaudeville and early talkies, still smelled of paint as it made its official debut as the Fox Performing Arts Center. Fox Foundation Gala attendees, clad in tuxes and evening finery, were greeted by a phalanx of period cars and a flirting Rhett Butler — a nod to the venue’s history as the site of the first public screening of “Gone With the Wind.” Food and champagne were served in three giant plastic tents, complete with crystal chandeliers and live jazz, set up at Mission Inn Avenue and Market Street.
There was a buzz of anticipation as gala-goers waited for Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge to turn on the lights and open the doors.
“We’ve been waiting for this a long time,” said 83-year-old Geneva Derr of Sun City, who frequented the third seat from the aisle in the Fox balcony (pictured) when she lived in Riverside.
“I think it’s marvelous…. People are almost hungry for it,” said Derr, widow of Riverside parks chief Don Derr.
“This is one of the most fantastic gala events I’ve ever attended,” said Ralph Chelli, who said he expects to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for his 30 years as a Clark Gable impersonator — from Universal Studios to the Rose Parade to films including “Chaplin” and “Seabiscuit.” It was actress Vivien Leigh, not Gable, who actually attended the secret 1939 preview of “GWTW,” but Chelli spent the evening mingling in a white suit and black-and gold ascot, arching a rakish eyebrow as he posed for pictures and fussed over the ladies. “I appreciate the people that keep this alive… the people that love tradition.”
The city acquired the venue through eminent domain in 2005; Joe Zivnak bought the theater in 2001 and began renovations, intending to house his Wurlitzer organ in the theater and run it as a non-profit. (Pictured right: The stage, May 2007, before renovation.)
The Fox’s rebirth echoes that of its neighbor, the once-shuttered Mission Inn, which reopened in 1992. Hotel owner Duane Roberts is now head of the board of trustees for the theater.
The Fox Performing Arts Center will host its first entertainment on Jan. 22-23, when singer Sheryl Crow performs; Nederlander’s initial Broadway in Riverside lineup includes “Annie,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hairspray.” For a full list of events, click here.
Prior to the gala, Fox project manager Robert Wise led a press tour to show off details of the building’s $32-million renovation. (The Fox will be open for free public tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.) An earthquake retrofit may have been the most important part of the work, but the most impressive is the painstaking replication of the intricate paintwork on the building’s beams and ceilings — obscured for decades under layers of brown paint.
Artist Evan LeGrande Wilson had to re-create faux woodgrain on the plaster beams before using stencils based on the original artwork. Even imperfections were duplicated, according to Wise. “The way you see this lobby now is the way it looked in 1929 when it opened,” he said.
Because the ceiling of the main auditorium had escaped the brown paint, it only required cleaning, touchup and varnishing, Wise said. Down below, all the old seats were removed (Wise called them “a biohazard”); the payoff is that the new ones, covered in deep red faux velvet, are decidedly more comfortable.
The ornate stage looks much the way it did in 1929, capped by three huge mission-style bells that had been covered by a latter-day facade since 1939, Wise said.
Wilson refurbished those as well as worked on the reproduction of detailed plasterwork and new tiles to replace those that were broken or stolen during the years the theater was dark.
Up in the balcony that Derr always favored there are an extra 92 seats, boosting the venue’s capacity to 1,642 — the extra room is thanks to the removal of the old projection room and cameras. (Films shown at the renovated Fox will be screened via rear projection.)
There are also more restroom stalls; 38, up from the original eight.
The theater’s original iron-and-mica lights were approximated — the new ones don’t have real mica or old-fashioned light bulbs, and additional units were added in the mezzanine lobby, Wise said. (Vintage photo, pictured right.)
Also reproduced is the neon “Preview” script that once graced the front of the Fox’s rotunda. The copy is in the bar area that replaces some of the old ground-level shops. The front of the building now sports a trio of LED billboards, the building’s most visible (some would say jarring) update.
Behind-the-scenes modernizations include an expanded stagehouse; sound equipment in the old pipe-organ spaces; and five wheelchair lifts and a freight elevator. Old office space above the theater has been turned into dressing rooms for performers — interiors walls and doors are generic modern-office style, but the exposed brick of the exterior walls looked so good after being stripped of plaster that they were left that way, Wise said. The room in the building’s rotunda has been structurally reinforced and renovated; it will serve as a lounge for donors.
While the Fox may look new, it still retains its character — and perhaps characters. Wise, who will move on to work on a parking structure that will replace the building adjoining the theater, said he’s heard the stories of ghosts in the Fox and isn’t the only one to get the occasional creepy feeling. Some of the electricians working on the renovation, Wise said, “won’t go into the basement alone.”
Click here to learn more about free tours of Riverside’s Fox Performing Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday.
Click here to watch a documentary on the history of Riverside’s Fox and the beginning of it’s renovation.
Click here to watch the demolition of the back wall of Riverside’s Fox Theater.
Click here to watch a video report on the renovation of Riverside’s Fox as it neared completion.
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