Kaimuki, HI – Hoping For A Queen Theater Comeback In Kaimuki

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on November 29, 2016 at 6:56 pm

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From The Hololulu Civil Beat: The Queen Theater’s neon marquee has been dark for years, its double doors shuttered.

Some people would love to see the venerable Kaimuki venue reopen for live shows or classes and have even formed a Friends of Queen Theater organization.

But the theater’s reclusive owner, Narciso Yu Jr., is said to be reluctant to sell the space.

Once a neighborhood anchor at the corner of Waialae Avenue and Center Street, the Queen is now the quietest building on the lively block.

In bygone decades, it screened Disney cartoons, surf films and porn flicks, and its history is as quirky as Kaimuki’s business district.

Similar to Chinatown’s First Friday art-and-drink block party, Kaimuki businesses have tried to start a Third Friday event in years past, though it’s had difficulty catching on. Bodden said he hopes Techu can help revive the event with live performances.

Artists worked with Kratzke and Bodden to adorn its walls, build its furniture and create an old-school “Indiana Jones” vibe, Kratzke said.

Kratzke and Bodden have been business partners for nearly 10 years and jointly own Conscious Groove Records, which operates a small recording studio inside the Queen and has recorded three albums there. The label’s artists have been performing at Techu.

Techu and the Queen are connected by an alleyway behind the block’s other properties. Kratzke envisions opening the alley for foot traffic.

Asked about fundraising plans for the Queen other than restaurant profits, Kratzke said financial backers have agreed to pitch in for the theater’s renovations, but declined to elaborate.

Within the next two years, Kratzke and Bodden hope to reopen the Queen’s doors to the public. They plan on keeping the recording studio, but want the rest of the building to be multifunctional.

Some people would love to see the venerable Kaimuki venue reopen for live shows or classes and have even formed a Friends of Queen Theater organization.

But the theater’s reclusive owner, Narciso Yu Jr., is said to be reluctant to sell the space.

Once a neighborhood anchor at the corner of Waialae Avenue and Center Street, the Queen is now the quietest building on the lively block.

In bygone decades, it screened Disney cartoons, surf films and porn flicks, and its history is as quirky as Kaimuki’s business district.

Yu, who couldn’t be reached for comment for this story, has been hesitant to commit to long-term plans and hasn’t accepted any offers from potential buyers. But a pair of artists who know him personally have been working to scrape together enough cash to reopen the theater.

Business partners Michael Kratzke and Juju Bodden say they are willing to put proceeds from their nearby, newly opened restaurant, Techu, toward the Queen.

They’ve been working on the restaurant, which features its own stage for live performances, for two and a half years.

Techu has only been open for a few weeks and Bodden said things have been up and down as they’re learning more about the business. He said Kaimuki business owners have been supportive of the new restaurant and stop by to eat.

Architects Hawaii is redesigning the space for free, Kratzke said. The company declined to comment through a public relations representative and deferred to Kratzke, who didn’t want to elaborate on its involvement.

Bodden said they want the space to be modular and flexible. Dance performances, live shows and theater, video and yoga classes could be held there. Holding youth classes at the Queen is a goal, Bodden said.

“Make it functionable for everyone, you know? Not just for one purpose, it’s a waste,” Bodden said.

The duo hopes to see both venues become community hubs for churches or groups with a cause, Kratzke said.

Whether it’s with the original neon or newer LED lights, they plan to restore the Queen’s marquee, he said. They’ve repainted the exterior, from white to its original yellow.

“We’re going to keep it that old, art deco charm,” Kratzke said. “We’re not really going to mess around with the front too much.”

“It’s iconic,” Bodden agreed.

Full story, more photos: http://www.civilbeat.org/2016/11/hoping-for-a-queen-theater-comeback-in-kaimuki/

ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org

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