By Charly SHELTON
Last weekend, Valentine’s Day events were all the rage, from special dinners to swingin’ dance nights to old movie screenings. But at The Rialto in South Pasadena, guests got the benefit of all three at once, while helping the theatre restoration effort and our own local restoration project – Rockhaven.
Vintage Valentine was a production created by the Friends of the Rialto and the Friends of Rockhaven groups as a fundraiser and as a way for their calls to action to reach a wider audience.
“It’s all about getting the name out there,” said Joanna Linkchorst, president of Friends of Rockhaven. “We were able to reach the Friends of the Rialto to tell them about Rockhaven and we were able to have this unbelievable experience and get more people into the Rialto and help them out, too, so it was incredible.”
About 150 guests purchased tickets, the proceeds of which went to the two charitable organizations, and were treated to a stellar evening. A gourmet dinner was provided by Gourmet A Go Go, featuring wedge salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, shrimp ceviche, chicken pot pie and more. Then the doors opened to start the show for the evening.
The Johnny Holiday Band performed on the old stage, a leftover from the bygone vaudeville days, above one of the few remaining original orchestra pits from the era. Johnny Holiday is Bing Crosby’s nephew and learned directly from the old time crooner himself. Holiday has been performing since 1969 and has stories of old Hollywood and Las Vegas as the age of the crooners faded out. He performed alongside Christine Nelson, Adam Tunney and Todd Murray who all brought their own flair and flavor to the act.
After the band took their bows and the stage was cleared for the projector screen, the Rialto screened its first film in over a decade – “Singin’ in the Rain” starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and the recently lost Debbie Reynolds in her first starring role at 19.
“It was astounding. I really wish that we had more people but it was so incredible, the people who did come and the outfits that they wore, and the people with the cute car out front. I was really impressed,” Linkchorst said.
The event was a lot of fun and it was nice to be able to see the inside of the Rialto again. Many in the Crescenta Valley remember going there as kids to see movies, myself included. The fact that it helped the Friends of Rockhaven is a double dose of a great way to spend an evening.
“Several people on the way out said, ‘You should do this more often.’ We all had a really good time. I have a friend at the Autry who moves very slowly and she’s kind of on the older side, and she had a bit of a hard time getting up the stairs to the ladies room. I was a little worried about her, but she sent me an email thanking me for the event and making sure that she went, and all the work that went into it. She really had a great time and loved seeing the movie on the big screen.”
For those who missed the event, the next Friends of Rockhaven fundraiser event will also be vintage themed and a little closer to home. On March 3 at the La Crescenta Library, FoR will hold an old fashioned Tupperware party. It is themed to the 1950s – 1960’s housewives and dressing up is encouraged.
“Mostly I’m treating this as kind of a hang out because whether you need Tupperware or not it’s still fun to get together, but if you need Tupperware they have some fun stuff,” Linkchorst said.
For more information, visit FriendsOfRockhaven.org.