The Amador Theater has served as the City’s principal performing arts facility for over 60 years. It was constructed in the late 1930’s as part of the Amador Valley High School Campus. Over the years, the Theater hosted innumerable school plays, band concerts, lectures and assemblies. The Theater also was the home for the CASK and MASK, later known as the Masquers. This highly successful community theater group, directed by Mr. Harry Tripp, was very active at the Amador Theater during the late thirties and early forties. In 1939, the group was invited to perform its production of Abie’s Irish Rose at the San Francisco World’s Fair.
The post war years saw a decline in community theater activity, but the theater remained a busy place. In addition to regular school programming, the community continued to enjoy a variety of events. Out-of-town touring companies and colleges brought Broadway musicals. Perhaps one of the most popular programs was the Scholarship Follies, a yearly vaudeville burlesque that was presented by service clubs and school faculties as a benefit for future teacher scholarships. These hilarious and sold out romps continued to be presented until the mid 1960’s.
Nineteen Sixty-four saw the premiere of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, the first production directed by Mrs. Abel Danny, to be presented at the Theater. This remarkable high school drama instructor went on to develop a program that became a state model, and which lasted over 20 years until her retirement. Many alumni of this program went on to professional careers in the theater and entertainment fields.
Reemerging interest in community theater manifested itself in the early 1970’s with the activities of the Institute for Theatrical Studies. This organization provided theater instruction and produced several plays at the Theater. Mrs. Aden’s program burgeoned and offered a series of summer musicals that were immensely popular not only in terms of audience size but in the numbers of community members who flocked to auditions. During this decade a new facade was built for the theater and the stage was extended out beyond the proscenium. Despite these improvements, time and heavy use were taking its toll on the Theater.
By 1981, The Amador Theater was in need of major repairs. At the same time, the emergence of the highly successful Children’s Theater Workshop and the development of Pleasanton Playhouse, a community theater group with roots in the earlier Institute for Theatrical Studies, indicated a need for a first-rate performing arts facility. The Pleasanton Community Concert Band, the Livermore-Amador Symphony and the Valley Choral Society also lent their strong support for the development of such a facility. The Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council, Pleasanton School District and the City of Pleasanton agreed to explore the creation of a joint powers authority, which would raise funds for the renovation and provide subsequent management of the Amador Theater. The Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council agreed to spearhead an unprecedented fund raising drive to accomplish this task.
The renovation was accomplished in three phases over a period of eight years. The Cultural Arts Council raised over $800,000 in cash and in-kind materials and services. The building was reroofed. Large windows were removed. Air conditioning was installed. A second phase included the removal of old seats and their replacement with all new chairs. The inside of the auditorium was completely redecorated and lighting and sound control systems were installed in a newly constructed control booth.
With the completion of phases one and two, the theater was ready for performances and audiences. But several vital amenities remained uncompleted. A lobby with rest rooms, box office and refreshment kitchen still needed to be constructed. Construction of a large scenery storage room adjacent to the stage had not yet begun. Bids to complete these projects came in at over $1.2 million. At this point the City of Pleasanton agreed to fund the rest of the renovation project. It was agreed that, instead of a joint powers arrangement, the theater would be owned and operated by the City of Pleasanton’s Department of Parks and Community Services for the benefit of the community. It was also agreed that the School District would enjoy 60 days free use of the facility each year.
In April 1989, the completed, newly renovated Amador Theater was dedicated to the public. The Gala Opening featured short presentations from all of the performing arts groups that would soon make Amador Theater the cultural center of the City. In 1993, some 60,000 people viewed or participated in an event at the Amador Theater, continuing a 50-year tradition of magic and enchantment.