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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rheem Theater to Close Tomorrow -- And We're Nostalgic Already

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 7:45 AM

That's all, folks...
  • That's all, folks...
It appears time has run out for a little theater where time appeared to stand still.

Tomorrow will be the last picture show at the Rheem Theater, located across the bay in the small town of Rheem -- which bears no relationship to the furnace and water cooler company of the same name.

Wandering into the lobby of the 1950s-era theater always did feel like a time warp -- and, sadly, was often more fun than the films your humble narrator took in there. The massive Zodiac-themed art installations, Art Deco furniture, tile floors, chandeliers, and glossy photos of Hollywood's golden age made the theater feel like the poor -- but proud -- cousin of the Paramount.

click to enlarge The famed Zodiac-themed art...
  • The famed Zodiac-themed art...
Personally, the place will always stand out in my memory because I saw Bobcat Goldthwait perform there, live, on my 16th birthday. Prior to his current revival as a director, people mostly remember Goldthwait for his yelling and screaming in the Police Academy movies. But I can assure you, he was funny as hell.

Sadly, however, this was one instance where the Rheem Theater did not add to the entertainment value of the show. The theater did have its origins as a stage hall, but the hastily rearranged setup of its main room made it look like a Saturday Night Live nightclub set. It was impossible to navigate the tables, and a lady trying to go to the restroom just about walked up on stage with Goldthwait -- which he noticed.

To top it off, the place was half full and a couple of charming gentlemen shouted "tell a joke about faggots" midway through the show. That was a long time ago, but this was still not exactly refined dialogue.

Notwithstanding, my recollections of the theater are fond. It was heartening to see a unique venue in an out-of-the way town even most East Bay natives couldn't find on a map trying to give it a go against the bland, interchangeable multiplexes. You're not surprised when the curtain comes down for good at a place like Rheem; in fact, I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner.

But it still makes you shake your head when one more eccentric Bay Area spot is killed off by bad economic times and cold, hard business reality.

Photo   |   via Loopnet

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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