California Theatre, San Bernardino
Sometimes, someone or something is just looking out for you and your interests.
It was a moody, tired day when I lurched into San Bernadino early in the afternoon and sought refuge at the WigWam. There is so much neon, and so many confusing directions in the downtown area, that night had blanketed the area before I realized what was happening. Taking wrong turns, pinned by oncoming headlights, trying to avoid the dedicated bus lane in the middle of the streets, I turned one unfamiliar corner and stumbled onto the Holy Grail - the California Theatre, one of my must-sees for this trip.
The California started out like many other theatres. Built in 1928 for vaudeville and movies, it boasts a working Wurlitzer organ and a large orchestra pit, both must-haves in a time when orchestras provided the sound accompaniment for silent movies.
Over the years, the California has seen every mode of musical and artistic expression enter through its doors - orchestras, symphonies, theatre productions, concerts. Will Rogers made his last appearance there; Rick Springfield has played there. The Theatre houses 1,718, and the City of San Bernadino, which owns it, has taken it through several renovations.
At night, spotlights awaken and turn their gaze on the marquee, bathing it in shifting pastel tones of yellow, green, orange, red, purple, and magenta. This season has featured Richie Valens' La Bamba, Aquarius, Fiddler on the Roof, The Nutcracker, and Dolly Parton's 9-5 The Musical. You can find the Theatre at 426 West Fifth Street, and the information above and much more can be found at www.californiatheatre.net.