Lark Theater plans to reopen despite renovation delays


  • Electrician Alvaro Padilla with artistic lighting and electrical work inside the Lark Theater in Larkspur during renovations on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • The neon sign and marquee of the Lark Theater are hidden by scaffolding and drop cloths in Larkspur on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. The theater is undergoing renovations. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Renovation work continues at the Lark Theater in Larkspur on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

The reopening of the Lark Theater in Larkspur has been delayed until early next year due to construction issues, but that doesn’t stop operators from what they call a helmet opening.

On October 9, as renovations continue, the theater will open its doors for its popular Live from the Met opera series in HD, serving free muffins and coffee on its outdoor patio as well as a souvenir helmet for the Entrance. The live broadcast of “Boris Godunov” will begin at 9:55 am.

“We’re still hoping for a big reopening of The Splashes,” said Ellie Mednick, executive director of the theater. “Come February, we’ll be back in business, but until then the opera will continue. “

Another performance of “Boris Godunov” is scheduled for October 13 at 6.30pm.

The 81-year-old theater at 549 Magnolia Avenue has been closed since the start of the pandemic. It was one of the first cinemas to offer online streaming so that customers could enjoy the movie selections at home, and it has partnered with the Department of Cultural Services of Marin County and the City of Corte. Madera to offer a film behind the wheel.

The Art Deco Theater has been declared a Larkspur Heritage Building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater launched a fundraising campaign three years ago with a mission to improve upgrades made about 12 years ago.

Mednick said that while construction is not complete, the theater could not give up on renewing its partnership with the Metropolitan Opera, which is resuming its live performances after being gloomy since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mednick and the theater board of directors had planned to unveil its newly renovated theater this fall. However, she said, the construction crew encountered a few slowdowns along the way with electrical issues, rot and delays in permits. The cost of the project fell from $ 1 million to around $ 1.5 million.

“When you dig into a building from the 1940s, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. We kept finding things that needed to be done, ”Mednick said.

The project includes updates for the halls, washrooms, bar and concession areas. It also includes renewed seating, carpet and lighting, a new air conditioning unit, and some improvements to the display cases, marquee lighting, and ticket booth.

The plan also includes improved stage lighting and a new adjustable stage extension to support the performance of a new series of programs called “Live on Stage”. This could include music reviews, one-act plays, and other shows.

As construction continues, guests will be escorted to their seats. Portable toilets will be located in the parking lot, as the toilets are still under construction, Mednick said.

“I’ve never been passionate about opera, but this program has opened so many doors for me,” said Carol Svetcov, opera series subscriber and member of the theater board. “I love it.”

Board chair Tina McArthur called the Lark a special place.

“It’s more than just a cinema, it’s a community center, an art house,” she said. “It’s sort of the heart of the city so to speak.”

Coreen Hester, a patron of the theater since the late 1970s, said she had just bought a house in Larkspur.

“Part of the appeal is that it’s right around the corner,” she said. “It’s just a big community.

Larkspur Mayor Kevin Haroff agreed.

“They are truly an anchor for our community,” said Haroff. “They have great lineup and a fantastic facility that they keep improving.”

The theater will require visitors to wear masks and present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative 48-hour test. Tickets for opera events are $ 30 on Saturday and $ 24 on Wednesday.

Mednick said that once the theater is fully open, it will have a selection of new arthouse films ready for screening. Series such as Mind Reels, Great Scores, and Let’s Go to the Movies with Harry are expected to return.

The Lark Drive-In Under the Stars will continue until October 30 with family programming on the north lot of the Village at Corte Madera shopping center.

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