Landmark Chico theater reopens


Tyrone Galgano is one of the three new owners of the newly renovated El Rey Theatre. Photo credit: Tisha Cheney

The historic El Rey Theatre had its fundraising grand opening Saturday night.

The event included a silent auction and four local bands with the Mystic Roots Band headlining the show.

The purpose of the fundraiser was to gain revenue to continue the renovations that have been in process since the new owners of Majestic Chico Company purchased the theater last year. The theme desired, according to co-owner Tyrone Galgano, is to combine state of the art production in an old world, art deco environment.

It has become a community project with 30 local businesses contributing to the fundraiser including Woodstock’s pizza and La Rocca Vineyards.

The El Rey is the oldest theater in California, first opening in 1906 as The Majestic.

“It’s one of the oldest, most beautiful theaters we have. It’s the Sistine Chapel of Chico,” said sponsor Matt Anghaholia.

For other community members it is nostalgic, wanting to preserve the old world of Chico.

“When I was 6 years old I saw Fantasia here. That’s what the fairies on the walls represent. They saved the walls, well trying to at least,” said community member Debra-Lou Hoffman.

Debra-Lou Hoffman and Matt Luksic
Debra Lou-Hoffman and husband Matt Luksic came out to support the El Rey’s grand opening fundraiser on Saturday night. Photo credit: Tisha Cheney

Owners plan to operate the theater as a multipurpose venue with the ability to accommodate a variety of events. They will also have it available to rent out to others for personal events such as movie showings, concerts or lectures. The doors are wide open here with possibilities.

“Funds gathered from last night’s event will go towards four projects,” said Tyler Galgano,co-owner of the El Rey Theatre.

Tyrone Galgano
Tyrone Galgano, co-owner of the El Rey Theatre. Photo credit: Tisha Cheney

These include renovating the murals and repairing the ceilings, installing heating and air conditioning, painting and upkeep to the front of the building and fixing up the bathrooms.

A mix of emotions seemed overcome by some with an overall positive feeling. “I’m part sad because it’s not the same, but part excited because I love to dance,” Hoffman said.

The next event will be their Classic Movie Day featuring “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, which was filmed in Chico’s Bidwell Park.

Tisha Cheney can be reached at [email protected] or @orionnews_TC on Twitter.