For FoPo and for the Bob White Theatre.
For the first time since the 1980’s, the theater played host to live entertainment, and a happy crowd brought energy and life back into the building. No doubt, the theater offered the same energy to those in attendance, and will surely do so for the surrounding neighborhood in the months and years to come.
For those who missed it, and who may have missed earlier cleanup parties and estate sales, the building is indeed a living, breathing theater. Sure, the seats may need to be reupholstered, and a few cosmetic improvements could go a long way, but the building is much more useable than the worn out facade may suggest. The inside is worn out, too. Don’t get us wrong. However, it is much closer to being ready for a grand opening than I would have previously thought, and the potential is blatantly obvious.
Imagine this: concession stand, theater fully equipped with a second-story balcony, beer garden, and limitless opportunities in the back warehouse, which could someday double as another theater space, restaurant, or something altogether different.
On Saturday night, though, it was the community that made it special. At least a couple hundred people, young and old, came out to see the progress Nick Storie has made since purchasing the building several months ago. For some, it brought back memories of their childhood, when Foster Road’s grand theater actually played movies. For others, it was a reminder that the neighborhood they live in is changing. And for most, if not all, that change is exciting…and it was certainly palpable on Saturday.
Taking a cue from many of Portland’s other old theaters, pizza and beer were on the menu. To show appreciation for the neighborhood, though, it was free (thanks to Nick and O’Malley’s), and if the constant crowd in the adjoining alleyway was an indication, it was much appreciated and consumed with great pleasure. Back inside, The Bottlecap Boys, The Fallmen, and Jennie Wayne, all performed live to an eager crowd who danced, visited with each other, and warmed up the seats for the first time in over 20 years. The energy was certainly fitting for the occasion.
While the theater will definitely continue getting a makeover, we suspect Nick will keep the neighborhood privy to his progress leading up to an eventual grand opening. And thanks to his crew of workers and promoters, we can look forward to more events like this in the future.
Let us know what about the Bob White excites you?