El Rey Theater gets renovations

Created: 05/21/2014 6:42 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A show-biz landmark in Downtown Albuquerque is back in biz again – bigger and better than ever. Since October the old El Rey Theater has been closed-up and dark, but the doors will open and the lights will shine for musical performances right away, thanks to new leaseholders who are determined to bring it back to life.

Most people just saw a disaster when the Golden West Saloon on the east side of the building burned in 2008, but Stephen Segura saw something else – an opportunity for an open-air venue.

“With the roof gone, man, we love it,” Segura said, giving a reporter and photographer a tour of the El Rey. “We look at it and say that is a disaster that we can turn into something beautiful again. We want to restore it and take it away from being an eyesore.”

The old theater itself is rewired and re-powered at 500 amps. On stage there is an LED wall, projector screens and upgraded stage lighting. Most important, nobody has monkeyed with the basic, legendary sound of the El Rey.

“The acoustics of this building are just magnificent,” Segura said. “I mean, you get touring acts that travel all over the world and the nation and they tell us about the acoustics in here.”

The new bathrooms will blow the minds of anybody who remembers the old days at the El Rey. Big, clean, modern, and numerous. No more peeing in a dungeon! And there’s still the famous balcony upstairs, with its own bar.

Food? At the El Rey? Are you kidding? Nope! Believe it – the new guys in charge are working out deals with the city’s ever-growing fleet of food trucks.

Wildest of all, they’re even thinking about screening movies, maybe on Sunday nights. Imagine that – that’s exactly what the El Rey was built for, back in 1941.

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