■ By Susan Carrier / Contributed
Residents from across the region are coming forward with donations to fund the renovations planned for the Historic Hemet Theatre (HHT), now that the foundation has secured ownership of the 1921 movie house.
The “Century Club” donors will allow the vintage movie house to be renovated from top to bottom in the next four years—in time for its 100th Birthday Celebration. A permanent plaque in the lobby will honor those whose generosity will help provide a home for entertainment and educational programming for decades to come. The deadline for campaign donations/pledges is April 30.
Donations in memory of family members are quite popular. With each gift comes a story of growing up with Saturday afternoon double features down at Martin’s downtown theatre. The magic of the vintage movie house still echoes through the auditorium with every show.
Hemet Sunset Rotary, Hemet Centennial Lions, and the Hemet/San Jacinto Scholarship Pageant are among the first service clubs that have made pledges to the campaign. Several others will be presenting the project to their membership this month.
The lobby will be the first to show the impact of the renovations. Jerome Scott, Great Scott Visuals in El Segundo, is donating his architectural design skills to the project. Steve Covington, owner of the Downtown Deli, will provide the art deco design reminiscent of the lobby’s decor in the 1940s. Expanded, handicapped-accessible restrooms will be the first major expense.
In total, over a million dollars will be needed to renovate the lobby, repair/replace sections of the roof, update the heating and air, repaint the auditorium, upgrade the projection system, improve the green-room facilities for performers and replace the marquee with a pointed version from the 1940s. Funds will also be used to install surround-sound speakers that have already been donated, and to purchase temporary staging that will permit a wider variety of programming by expanding the stage over the dance floor for some events. A Museum of Early Film, dedicated to William Martin, will occupy a portion of the upstairs.
Meanwhile, two events remain in season one of the Tribute Mania Series. A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen featuring The Rising on Saturday, April 14 and a Tribute to Tom Petty with Petty and the Heartshakers on Saturday, April 28. Tickets to the Petty tribute have been particularly popular and will almost certainly sell out before show day.
Showtime for all Tribute Mania concerts is 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:15 pm. Tickets are $22 presale and $25 day of show.
HHT also features classic films for just $5 every Monday and Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Coming up on Monday, April 16, My Man Godfrey (1936) starring William Powell, Carole Lombard, and Alice Brady, and on Tuesday, April 17, Quicksand (1950) starring Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, and Barbara Bates.
Information on all theatre events is available at www.HistoricHemetTheatre.com or by calling the ticket office at 951-658-5950. A weekly email blast of upcoming events is available by enrolling on the website.
Event tickets are available online at www.PurplePass.com or at the theatre ticket office. Ticket Office hours are Monday thru Friday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are also available at the Downtown Deli, 113 N. Harvard St., and the Harvard Street Music Exchange, 134 S. Harvard St.