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Granada Theater in The Dalles reopening with festivities

The Granada Theater in The Dalles is going through extensive improvements. The historic theater is set to reopen in November, along with related celebrations.

Photo by Jesse Burkhardt
The Granada Theater in The Dalles is going through extensive improvements. The historic theater is set to reopen in November, along with related celebrations.

With work on the exterior of the Granada Theater now almost complete, the owners of the historic, 1929-era theater are ready to schedule a “Grand Opening Gala” in November.

Giving an update to members of The Dalles City Council on Monday evening, Granada co-owner Chuck Gomez said the theater, located at the corner of Second Street and Washington, will reopen with great fanfare on Nov. 10.

“It’s more beautiful than beyond our wildest expectations,” Gomez told the council members.


The Granada Theater, before renovations started.

Gomez and his partner, theater co-owner Debra Liddell, purchased the aging theater from the city of The Dalles in March for $60,000. As part of the sale agreement, they are plowing as much as $300,000 into renovating the building inside and out.

Mayor Steve Lawrence said the work on the theater has been transformational.

“I think the Granada looks incredible,” Lawrence said.

According to Gomez, the Granada has been returned to its original colors from its opening night, which was on March 6, 1929.

“Being a rare, Moorish Revival Art Deco style, the outside walls have been completely and thoroughly re-plastered, cemented, repaired and repainted the color of the sands of the great Sahara high desert and trimmed in dark outlines accented with the original sea-foam green found in many deco buildings of that era,” he explained.

Gomez added that the main windows, Moorish spirals, and crowns have been trimmed in a dark contrasting paint, while the acorns and spires have been repainted into their original green.

“All the restoration is on track to recall the styles the Granada was built with, those styles of 1929,” he said.

Gomez described the refurbished theater as the “gem of downtown.”

“It has become obvious to many that the Granada Theater is fast becoming not only a highlight of the business district once again, but one of the finest originally restored theaters in all of Oregon,” Gomez said.

Gomez said the reopening celebration will get started on Friday, Nov. 10, with a lineup of acts beginning with bagpipes and drums, including Japanese Taiko drumming.

There will be a short silent short movie; a group of “barbershop” singers called the River City Dudes; and the Pendulum Aerial Arts acrobats and trapeze artists from Portland. Also on the program will be the Lindy Hop dancers, who do swing and jitterbug dancing.

Gomez said the Friday night opening events will be followed by what he simply called “a surprise finale!”

On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Granada’s acts will be free to all veterans, and The Dalles band Got Your Six — which is comprised of musicians who are all veterans — will open the festivities.

They will be followed by Cash & The King, an eight-piece rock and roll tribute band from San Francisco that performs the music of Johnny Cash & Elvis Presley.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, the theater will focus on families. There will be a children’s circus along with Pendulum Aerial Arts.

The building’s interior is undergoing many alterations as well, and Gomez plans a surprise or two that will be unveiled when the November festivities take place.

He pointed out that the Spotlight Café, inside the theater directly west of the ticket booth, has been totally repainted, and the ceiling has an antique copper finish with walls in “true art deco tones.”

The old theater seats are gone, with newly designed seats on order and expected to arrive in mid-October.

Virtually everything else in the theater that had been installed previously, and were not fire-rated, have been removed and discarded. “All elements now being installed have full fire-proofed certification,” Gomez said.

Glenn Ness, one of the country’s leading muralists, has been hired to do the theater’s interior artwork. Ness painted the famous murals in New York’s Chrysler Building.

“As this part of the project draws near, we are closing our open-door policy to make all the changes a surprise for the opening night gala unveiling,” Gomez said.

After his Monday presentation to the council, Gomez asked members of The Dalles City Council to put up some funds for advertising to help shine a spotlight on The Dalles during the historic theater’s reopening.

“This is such an opportunity to present The Dalles to the area, the community, the West Coast and to the world,” he said.

“We’re asking for funds to spread the word about the theater so we can reach out and make it a spectacular weekend for all.

“This is a golden opportunity, with performers coming from Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Vancouver and bringing their families and friends.

“We believe the theater, for those three days, will be the center of the bullseye.

“It is a calling card for the entire state and region.”

Lawrence said any financial support from the city would be up to the council.

“I don't know how much Chuck wants,” Lawrence said.

“It is the kind of request not budgeted for, so we will have to discuss it.”

Gomez hopes the entire nation can get to know the theater and share in its rebirth.

“It’s time to announce the Granada with authority,” Gomez said.

“We truly love that theater.”


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