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Castro Theatre To Become Live Music & Comedy Venue, Will Still Screen Some Films Too

Updated: Jan 20, 2022 10:49
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In news that will certainly make some cinephiles glum while live performance lovers grin, the 100-year-old Castro Theatre will be under new management, get a facelift, and diversify its programming to accommodate more live concerts including “music, comedy and community events”.

The new management team is Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment, who know a thing or two about putting on a live show.  APE is headed by Gregg Perloff, formerly of Bill Graham Presents,  and they put on all kinds of concerts and festivals in the Bay Area including co-producing Outsidelands.

They also exclusively operate and promote concerts at several other historic Bay Area venues like the Fox Theatre in Oakland, the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and the Independent in San Francisco. Perloff told the Chronicle this week that his company will spend “millions and millions of dollars” installing a new screen, updated sound system, lighting, ventilation and video equipment in Castro Theatre. Plans are to expand the lobby and backstage areas as well.

“After 100 years everyone and everything needs a makeover,” Castro owner Steve Nasser, whose grandfather built the theatre that opened in 1922, told The Chronicle. “The economics of film alone were not sufficient to modernize, enhance and renovate this historic property.”

The Fox Theatre in Oakland had an APE renovation too, and by all accounts it is beautiful.

The Castro Theatre wrote on facebook today:

“We are thrilled to announce a new development – after operating the Castro Theatre for nearly a hundred years, we are partnering with our friends at Another Planet Entertainment (APE) to bring you world class entertainment and the next evolution of our historic theatre. The Castro Theatre will be undergoing major improvements while also preserving our rich history. We are so excited for this new chapter and for APE to continue the legacy of the Castro Theatre.” – Elaine Nasser Padian

The Castro will still screen select films, but the change from full-time film repertory programming and film festivals is sorrowful news for Bay Area film organizations and movie fans who grew used to popping into the Castro for movies nearly every day of the week.

Under the Nassers, the Castro theatre played a vital role in creating the queer culture of the neighborhood since the mid-1970s.  Filmmaker and social activist Marc Huestis had bitter-sweet words about the change, he wrote on Facebook today: “The Castro Theatre will no longer be a repertory movie theatre. This is sad, but change is constant. So incredibly grateful to have done 55 events there over 40 years, that now are part of the legacy of the theatre.”

Huestis hosted film screenings for huge Hollywood directors and stars, along with important events that contributed to LGBTQ culture and community.  So many people in the neighborhood have fond memories of drag sing-a-longs, film festivals, community events, and amazing film premieres at the Castro Theatre.

The theatre is a historic landmark and will remain under the ownership of the families of Bay Properties, Inc., Steven Nasser and Elaine Nasser Padian. The Spanish Baroque-style building was designed by Moderne master architect Timothy Pflueger and updated in the 1930s with the Art Deco marquee, sunburst chandelier and famed neon sign.

Castro Theatre San Francisco

Drag performer and BAS favorite Peaches Christ told the Chronicle, she’s still “adjusting to the shock of it and trying to be optimistic about what this could mean.”  She also said, “Thank God it’s still going to be an event space and a theatre. Sometimes it’s necessary as part of saving these spaces (to make changes), but of course, the concerned, worried queen in me feels like we may be losing the community gathering space,” Peaches Christ said. “I’ve often described the Castro Theatre as a place of worship. This is my church and this is a spiritual place that has significant meaning.”

Once construction begins it’s expected to take 6-8 months for renovations (once permits are accepted), there’s currently only one show on the theatre calendar (Lovett or Leave it on March 4th) which is sold out.

We hope there is a string of wonderful screenings and events this Spring before it closes for construction, and we certainly are excited to continue visiting the Castro Theatre for another 100 years upon its grand reopening….sometime in the future.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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1 Comment

  1. GS
    January 20, 2022 at 8:11 am — Reply

    If they run it anything like Outside Lands they will shut down the sidewalk for three weeks before and after every show.

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