September Venues Reopening…
The people who work to bring people together in performing arts venues are breathing big sighs of relief as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease and stage lights start to brighten.
“We are thrilled to be able to open,” says an excited Michelle Irvine, general manager of the historic Cascade Theatre in downtown Redding. “It’s been a very long 16 months.”
The Cascade’s first big ticketed event will be country rap artist (and former professional golfer) Colt Ford on Sept. 9. “We’ve got a full lineup and we’re still working on booking shows,” Irvine says. “We’re fortunate to be able to bring back some of our original staff from before and a lot of dedicated volunteers are returning.”
The Cascade’s fall lineup includes trumpeter Chris Botti (Sept. 14); jazz guitarist Pat Metheny (Sept. 22); comic Tape Face (Oct. 10); roots rocker John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas (Oct. 16); bluesman Robert Cray (Oct. 19); and bluesy folk with the Wood Brothers (Oct. 20).
Perhaps no one is more excited to swing open the doors than Darryll Alvey, president of Riverfront Playhouse’s board of directors. The venerable community theater company had just put the finishing touches on its new downtown Redding 152-seat facility when the pandemic put the kibosh on indoor public gatherings.
“It’s a watershed moment, it absolutely is,” says Alvey, who notes that mortgage payments, insurance and the other monthly expenses continued throughout the COVID-19 closure. “It was just not morally right to open and possibly expose people. We waited as long as we could to make sure there’s no blatant or open exposure to our patrons,” Alvey says.
But the wait is over and Riverfront’s new curtains will rise Sept. 17 for the opening night of “Clue.” The world premiere of Mary Lou Dobson’s “Dracula: Down for the Count” opens Oct. 15. The expansive new theater (11,500 square feet compared with 2,500 square feet for the old East Cypress Avenue location) gives Riverfront abundant opportunities to host receptions and meetings while the theater itself has already proven to be a popular concert venue.
Post-COVID concerts are music to the ears of Janelle Pierson and Janis Rollins Logan, two of the organizers of the Redding Roots Revival music festival, which is returning Sept. 24-25 after a successful debut in 2019.
Pierson says the festival is sticking to its long-term goal of promoting downtown with a weekend of live music on multiple stages throughout the Redding Cultural District, but in deference to last year’s hiatus, the 2021 edition will be “smallish” with 24 acts performing on two stages.
The main stage will be set up behind the Chain Gang bike shop with the Stone Foxes slated to close out opening night and Tim Snider and Wolfgang Timber wrapping up Saturday’s entertainment. Other acts scheduled include the Coffis Brothers, Jessica Malone, Jim Dyar and the Barefoot Band, Jeff Campbell, Mickelson and Jonathan Foster. “It’s going to be all outdoors and it’s going to be fun,” Pierson says.
Fun’s on tap as well at the Civic Auditorium, which is getting back into the concert business with country star Lee Brice on Sept. 25 and Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp on Oct. 17. “We’re super excited that the event industry is coming back to life,” says Nathan Parmelee, the Civic’s booking and marketing manager.
The Civic will have health and safety measures in place, Parmelee says, “but we’re just thrilled to be in a position to do indoor shows again. We’ve got a number of shows on the books and some really big shows this winter. We have every reason to believe 2022 will be a strong year.”
Axiom Repertory Theatre took full advantage of the grand reopening by staging six shows in rotation through the end of September. True to its repertory name, the Bechelli Lane theater company is presenting “Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” “May 4th Voices,” “The Vagina Monologues,” “Love Letters,” “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit,” and “I Got Sick Then I Got Better.” Earlier, its Children’s Theatre staged “Seussical Jr.”
Concerts have returned to Red Bluff ’s State Theatre, as well. Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan visited in August and “An R-Rated Magic Show” will be staged Sept. 18, followed by country artist Josh Turner on Sept. 25. Tanya Tucker will perform Oct. 12.
Easing of COVID restrictions also means one of California’s oldest fairs is back after a year’s absence. The Inter-Mountain Fair, which dates back to 1918, will offer carnival rides, livestock exhibitions, a concert, a destruction derby and more from Sept. 2-6 at the fairgrounds in McArthur.
Fittingly, the fair’s theme is Bring Back the Fun in 2021! •