VACAVILLE — Smiles abounded Saturday night as Theatre DeVille made its debut in downtown Vacaville.
After 13 months of extensive renovations, the once-disused theater shone from top to bottom with a new digital marquee and massive old-school microphone head on the facade to the fully updated interior, complete with kitchen and bar.
Once a cinema, and after 88 years of overlooking western downtown, the theater began its new life Saturday at what owners and city officials hope will be the premiere entertainment venue in the region.
The soft opening filled the theater with city dignitaries and downtown business owners enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres and taking in the sounds of Antsy McClain the Trailer Park Troubadours.
For city officials, the opening of the theater marks a major victory for Vacaville.
“It’s long overdue and something our community’s been looking forward to and what is so special is that while it’s new and different, it’s going to be an icon for the community,” said City Manager Laura Kuhn. “We all look forward to really great things happening here.”
The theater, which stands just off the intersection of Main and Cernon streets and next door to the Chamber of Commerce, could lead a major expansion of the city’s night life especially.
“It’s going to really help bring more people to the downtown area at night, when most of our businesses downtown are open during the day,” Kuhn said. “So it’s a nice complement to the downtown.”
Mayor Steve Hardy sat at a table on the main floor and reminisced.
“I was telling somebody that my daughter, who’s 46 now, came to a movie with one of her friends when we moved to Vacaville in 1977. She actually came and saw a movie here before it went through all the iterations,” Hardy said.
At different times, the theater has been a movie house and a church.
“It’s going to be first class. I hope that it covers itself because it’s a great, great, great addition to the community,” Hardy said. “I’m thrilled. It really completes downtown from one end of the street to the other.”
City Councilman Curtis Hunt was happy for the economic possibilities for the city.
“(I’m) really excited to have this. I think it’s a unique entertainment opportunity for Vacaville. It has potential for regional attraction. It will also rejuvenate downtown,” Hunt said. “We’re excited about it. It’s our opportunity to do some economic stimulus downtown.”
Even Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, whose district includes parts of Solano County, was raving about the theater.
“They gave me the opportunity to go through it in November and I’m a general contractor by trade, and they told me the opening day would be around here, and I’m like ‘OK, no way!’ ” Frazier said. “They pulled it off. “(I’m) very pleased that they’re making the investment into the arts and culture and the opportunity for entertainment in Vacaville.”
Royce Farris, CEO of DeVille Entertainment, which owns the theater and paid for the seven-figure renovation, was thrilled with the reception of his guests, Saturday.
“Outstanding is the word I would use. Phenomenal. It’s euphoric,” Farris said. “Basically, all the movers and the shakers of the community are here.”
Now that the heavy lifting is done, a new stage begins.
“It’s all about bringing the right shows to attract the people and give the people what they want,” Farris said. “It’s all about the guest, about the talent and then it’s about the business. If the guest is happy, if the talent is happy, then the business will thrive.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.