DOWNEY -- The newly-renovated Downey Civic Theatre hosted a very special 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, August 13.
The evening’s festivities began at 5:30 p.m. with an Open House which was free to the public. Guests lined up on the red carpet to enter the refurbished lobby adorned with dramatic and artistic banners. They were presented with commemorative 60th anniversary coins inside and were entertained with live piano music. On the second level of the lobby, an extensive art exhibit celebrating the city’s and theatre’s history was on display.
Guests were invited to enjoy complimentary Cafe n Stuff hor d’oeurvres and beverages graciously served by Soroptimist International volunteers at a no-host bar on the patio. Inside the theatre, Mayor Alex Saab and council members Roger Brossmer and Sean Ashton welcomed everyone, including city manager Gilbert Livas, State Sen. Tony Mendoza, and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s senior adviser, Kim Tachiki-Chin.
After a slide show highlighting the programs and performers who have been and will be at the theatre, Mr. Ashton gave a brief history of Downey’s last 60 years. Then, Mr. Brossmer spoke about the history of the theatre and its origins with Mr. John Hume and the Downey Children’s Theatre. He also listed all of the improvements that have occurred at the theatre, those that have come about because of the management by VenueTech under manager Amber Vogel, and the city monies invested in the renovation.
These improvements include: the new lobby furniture, new air conditioning system, upgraded sound system and multi-media projector, the interior and exterior banners, and the beautiful new restrooms.
The city was presented with a state resolution from Sen. Mendoza and a congressional record from senior adviser Chin in recognition of its 60th anniversary. The audience was then treated to a sneak peek to the evening’s concert, with a performance by Michelle Berting Brett, lead singer for “We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered”. Mr. Saab thanked her for bringing her show to Downey (it was their Southern California debut) and presented her with a city proclamation.
After the Open House activities ended, the evening’s festivities continued with what many described afterwards as an amazing and most memorable event. Concert-goers were taken on a musical journey through the professional and personal lives of two of Downey’s most famous and beloved residents. Ms. Brett described it as a “dream come true”.
From the moment she and her husband and the show’s producer, Mark Brett, put the tribute show together they thought about Downey. “Wouldn’t it be great to play there?” she remembered.
Ms. Brett, backed by her multi-talented 7 piece band, invited the audience to “sing along and sway to the music” as “we invoke, evoke and provoke and conjure up the spirit of their music.” After the heartfelt tribute, she exclaimed, “It was heaven from the first moment!”
For those who were fortunate enough to be in the sold-out audience, many who have their own Carpenter story, it was truly a unique experience to listen and sing along to the sweet sounds of our very own Carpenters inside our very own theatre.
“Where Incredible Happens!” is the theatre’s slogan and it certainly did on Saturday night at our 60th anniversary celebration.