Concert, Oscars pack Colusa Theatre
The Colusa Theatre packed people in over the weekend.
Actually, it was local singer Kaylee Starr who nearly filled the 400-seat iconic movie house Saturday with her first powerful performance of Country Swift, a salute to country music superstar Taylor Swift.
The Oscar party on Sunday drew a smaller crowd, but the weekend events put Colusa on the map as a place to go for entertainment.
"I'm very pleased with the turnout," said Mike Wilkinson, who opened his theater to alternative uses last year during a sluggish movie economy. "It's nice to see so many people here."
Starr's performance had 10-year-old dreamy-eyed girls to 80-year-old grandparents tapping their feet to the beat.
"It was wonderful," said Ellen Vargas, who brought her 11-year-old to see a tribute to her idol, Taylor Swift. "I thought this would be the next best thing, until Kaylee started singing. we couldn't imagine Taylor being better and this was practically in our own backyard."
Starr and her band, which includes her fatherm Jeff Poppinga, and brother, Kyle Poppinga, played the same mix of Swift and original tunes she will be taking on tour this spring and summer.
Her next performance will be at the Woodland Opera House on April 23.
"When we peeked out the doors from back stage, we couldn't believe our eyes," Starr said of the filled theater. "What an amazing feeling."
And just like the young county music star she's saluting, Starr stayed after the concert signing photos, talking to fans and taking pictures.
"It was such a cool thing to experience," said 17-year-old Starr, who said community support for her has been tremendous.
Sunday's Oscar party was a little quieter, but still touched a lot of people.
"I watch a least some of the Academy Awards every year, but it's fun to watch it at the theater with friends," said J.P. Cativiela, formerly of Colusa. "I really enjoyed the show."
The event raised more than $1,000 for the Colusa County Film Commission and Soroptimist International of Colusa County.
"I really enjoyed it," said former actress and Emmy winner Marilyn Kennedy, Film Commission chairwoman. "It was fun and also very meaningful."
About 50 attendees cheered their favorites to a win and applauded those remembered in a sober memorial, like Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, Lena Horne, Lynn Redgrave, Tony Curtis and others who died in the past year.
Kennedy, who lives in Arbuckle, has attended many Academy Awards and has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild for 56 years.
In 1954, the year Grace Kelly won for "Country Girl," a film adaptation of Clifford Odets's play by the same name and stared William Holden and Bing Crosby, Kennedy and actress Lee Bowman watched as their Oldsmobile commercial aired on a big screen.
Kennedy was 23.
At 80, Kennedy, a licensed clinical psychologist, is determined to make Colusa County fall in love all over again with movies and filmmaking in an effort to boost the local economy, and provide opportunities in the arts for local youth.
Kennedy said Kaylee Starr is too young to attend the summer theater program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, but she's not too young to launch a movie career.
Kennedy is going to use her connections to try and get the young singer a part in something in order for her to become a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
In addition to singing, Starr hopes to become a successful actress.
"There's always been something of a catch," Kennedy said. "You have to have a part to become a member and you have to be a member to get a part. it was like that 50 years ago."
The two events at the theater are among some fresh entertainment opportunities at the theater, including the Christian Rap Concert on Friday and Comedy Night with Frank Lucero and G. Riely on Saturday, Wilkinson said.
"We're going to have a Led Zeppelin salute in April, and we would love to get Kaylee back for another concert," he said.
The Film Commission will also host its gala event at the Colusa Theatre in May, with special guest, actress Diane Baker ("Diary of Anne Frank," "Silence of the Lambs," "Marnie" and "The Net"), for a showing of the short film "I Am Not Vietnamese," which was filmed outside Colusa by Academy of Art students in August.
Kennedy and Baker hope to persuade actor and producer Ron Howard to attend the red carpet event for a showing of his 1975 movie "Huckleberry Finn," which was filmed in Colusa.
Even plans for next year's Oscar party are underway.
"We planned this one is just two weeks," said Lori Garofalo, who helped organize the event. "Next year, we want to roll out the red carpet and maybe make it a formal event. I want to go big."