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The Heritage Theatre
1 W. Campbell Ave., No. 32, Campbell; 408.866.2797; www.heritagetheatre.org

By Jim Harrington

Amenities: Coat check, light concessions (sodas and baked goods) sold on event nights, free on-site parking, listening assistance devices for the hearing impaired

WHO NEEDS a multimillion-dollar concert venue in downtown San Jose? Not the South Bay cats dying to see Tony Orlando or the Smothers Brothers. They've got the Heritage Theatre. Located at the Campbell Community Center, the Heritage is establishing itself as the local hot spot for golden-oldies entertainment (though an April 23 and 25 standby San Jose Taiko is an exception). So far, the historic building has hosted Tommy Tune, the Smothers and the Count Basie Orchestra. Upcoming shows include Orlando (May 8) and adult-contemporary pianist Jim Brickman (June 5). It's not the hippest of rosters, but it's one that clearly appeals to a demographic with deep pockets. Organizers say that they are looking to spice up the lineup for the fall.

Built in 1928 as the Campbell Union High School Auditorium, the Spanish Colonial Revival-style building was designed by William H. Weeks, who also drew the plans for the Hotel De Anza. The Campbell Union High School District decided in 1980 to close the school, but the city of Campbell stepped in to save the auditorium. Residents backed the plan, and the city received a whopping 92 percent approval rating from voters to purchase the site in 1985. A massive $8.5 million renovation effort was later launched to both modernize and restore the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and four other notable registries.

After years of preparation, the Heritage finally celebrated its grand opening on Valentine's Day with the big band and Broadway show tunes of Tommy Tune and the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. The renovated Heritage is a glorious sight (and site). Architectural highlights include the open grillwork on the arched front windows and decorative tiles brilliantly colored in shades of coral, sea green, indigo and bright yellow. Even if you don't feel like tying "a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree," this is still a wonderful example of community members succeeding in protecting their city's heritage.

Apr 23-24: San Jose Taiko
May 8: Tony Orlando
Jun 5: Jim Brickman

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From the April 21-27, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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