"Ornate" and "sweeping" only begin to describe the Crest Theatre, whose rich history extends back to 1912, when it was opened as a vaudeville house. Within its gargantuan auditorium, plush seats perch in subtly curved rows while elaborate lights and a sea-blue ceiling wash the space in ethereal hues. Moviegoers settle into the elegant confines to take in both new and classic films, reading the subtitles in a whisper to stuffed animals that forgot their glasses. Out in the lobby, a richly patterned carpet and bronzed floral motif cover the sprawling space as visitors belly up to the bar and snack on high-quality goodies.
From the cabernet-hued curlicues on the carpets to the gilded columns and soaring ceilings, the Alameda Theatre is steeped in history. During the Second World War, soldiers crowded in to watch films in the auditorium, which also has spent stints as a practice area for rock bands and as a skating rink. The theater was recently brought out of dormancy with an extensive renovation project that restored the glow to its art-deco façades and towering neon sign. Gold leaf, some still intact from the building’s construction in 1932, leads eyes up to a screen 50 feet in width.
A packed schedule of first-run films flickers to life on the big screen, with showings in 3-D letting audiences see explosions leap from the flat surface or watch pieces of the Hulk’s hard-to-program VCR fly past. The historic theater also showcases classic films such as The Graduate or The Wild One every week, and hosts a talent show every Friday and Saturday evening.
Each year, the Mainstage troupe stages seven challenging, emotion-evoking plays in an intimate theater setting. The current production, Old Love (running Aug. 1–Sept. 12), jumps back and forth through 25 years in the relationship of a salesman, Bud Mitchell, and his boss's wife, Molly Graham. The illicit infatuation is portrayed through scenes of sporadic encounters interspersed with heartfelt monologues and comedic moments both light and dark. Adult tickets for Friday-, Saturday-, and Sunday-evening shows are normally $30 (senior and student tickets are $28); Tuesday-, Wednesday-, and Thursday-evening shows are normally $25 (senior/student $23); and Wednesday matinees are normally $22 (senior/student $18). Check the schedule for showtimes, and put on your play-watching pilot's goggles for an evening of stellar stagework at B Street Theatre.
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