Most Viewed Stories
Sutter Theater revamp takes shape in Yuba City
A "black box"-style theater is planned where volunteer crews worked Thursday at the long-closed Sutter Theater in Yuba City.
Crews worked to remove the remains of a wall that once separated two movie houses during the multi-screen days of the Plumas Street moviehouse — the latest step in what is hoped will be the creation of a community theater in Yuba City.
"I came here as a 6-year-old," remembered builder John Tuscano, 67, a founder of the nonprofit Sutter Performing Arts Association.
He saw the 1957 movie "Old Yeller" and Gene Autry films in the old theater.
Now he and Russ Clark, who head the effort to restore the theater, can see the site's future as a place for performances, including high school plays, conferences and appearances by entertainers. Supporters hope to have the black box theater, so named for the color of the walls, open by the end of this year.
The association was formed in 2004, but fundraising efforts have been slowed in recent years because of the down economy, officials said.
Cal-West Concrete Cutting in Yuba City helped take down the wall in the theater last month. Tuscano and Clark said the company's efforts and the volunteers taking away the material are part of the community work making the restoration possible.
The latest interior work follows restoration of the theater marquee in 2011.
"It's a signature place on the street," Clark said of the Sutter Theater, built in 1940s and closed in the last decade.
Tuscano said the pour-in-place concrete structure of the building makes its very, very strong.
"If we get bombed," Clark said, "that's where you want to be."
Mike Birch, manager of Cal-West Concrete, said the company expects to do more work at the site.
"It's a good project to get behind and help out when you can," he said. "It'd be nice to have that theater."
Yuba City resident Nicollette Voorhies, 20, who was volunteering with the cleanup, agreed.
"I'm really looking forward to what they're going to do," she said of the restoration.
Yuba City resident Vern G. Hill, 85, was volunteering at the site — although he doesn't expect to be appearing in any productions there.
"I'm not a good actor," he said, smiling. "I was told by a director, 'You can't be on stage. You mouth everybody else's part. It's distracting to the audience.'"
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.
Watchin 'Old Yeller'
Fred Brown, 63, a board member of the Sutter Performing Arts Association who was working Thursday at the theater, remembers going to the moviehouse as a youth when it was the happening place in Yuba City.
"The kids used to line up waiting for the movies," he said.
Where Brown was helping to remove the material had been the loge seats toward the back of the theater.
"As kids, we all ran to the front," Brown recalled.
He, like Tuscano, saw "Old Yeller" in the Sutter Theater as a kid. The movie is about a boy whose yellow dog is attacked by a rabid wolf — and the youth is later forced to shoot the animal when the rabies-infected dog threatens another family member.
"It broke my heart," Brown said. "It still does."
— Ryan McCarthy