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Historic San Francisco Chinatown Theater Prepares for Grand Opening

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Two Salesforce software engineers have taken on the revival of a historic San Francisco venue called the Great Star Theater in Chinatown.

Executive Director Roger Pincombe said he had his first date with his wife and now Director of Community Relations Alice Chu at Great Star in 2017.

"It's been so sad seeing it empty for the past several years and we're really excited to be able to bring it back as a venue that can be used by the community for all sorts of shows - both Chinatown, Chinese opera, and also Western and local performers as well," he said.

The couple took on a 10-year lease at the building, hoping it would bring some life back to the neighborhood and add another option for live artists, who lost nearly all of their revenue during the pandemic.

The two started a non-profit to operate the venue, fittingly calling it "The Great Star Theater." They sunk $150,000 dollars of their own money along with donations into restoring it.

Pincombe said the theater originally opened in 1925 as a Chinese opera house, where he said Bruce Lee's father used to perform on stage.

"It's been more or less disused the past few decades, there's been a couple shows in and out," he said.

Chu said she believes the theater will help attract more tourists and locals to visit.

"Each show will bring a few hundred people over to the theater, which going to help the restaurant or the stores nearby, or even all the bars at nighttime after the show is over," she said.

The official launch is on Friday, June 18 - complete with lion dancers, fireworks, giveaways, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5 pm. The public is welcome to attend the outdoor portion for free.

The opening performance will feature Totum By Ballet22, an all-male group out of Oakland in honor of pride month.

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