Fontana’s Center Stage Theater will close down for major renovations, city says | News



Fontana’s Center Stage Theater will close down in order to receive a big makeover, but when it reopens next year, the current operators of the city’s deluxe downtown venue will not be presenting any more shows there.

Todd and Jennifer Vigiletti, who have been in charge of the entertainment at Center Stage since it opened in 2008, will have their final production, “New York City Rhythm in the Key of B,” on Sunday, Aug. 14.

It was not the couple’s choice to leave, Todd Vigiletti said. The city, without explanation, asked them to close and vacate the dinner theater by the end of August.

“It’s certainly not anything we wanted to have happen,” he said. “We thought we had a good relationship with the city.”

He said he knows the city, which owns the building, has “a right to do anything it wants, but it would have been nice to have this be a more amicable parting. We thought this came out of left field.”

Center Stage, which had its 2020-21 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened last fall and has seen good attendance numbers this season, Vigiletti said.

Mayor Acquanetta Warren said that Center Stage is among Fontana’s most important public facilities.

“Many have enjoyed its use over the years, and we are grateful to hear how important protection and preservation of Center Stage is to the community,” Warren said in a statement. “In order to ensure this unique venue maintains its character, prominence, and viability for this and the next generation of patrons, the City will be starting a major renovation and restoration project within the next few months.”

Renovations will include structural repairs, exterior painting, an update to the interior design and furnishings as well as modernizing all of the sound, lighting, and video equipment, Warren said.

A renovation of this size and scope will take a significant amount of time, and as a result, city staff has been tasked with a targeted reopening by the summer of 2023, Warren said.

“Upon reopening, the City will entertain proposals from vendors that seek use of this outstanding facility,” she said.

Back in June, Vigiletti had created a petition on Change.org, hoping to convince the city to at least keep Center Stage open through the end of the year so that the very popular annual show “Holiday Follies” could be presented in December. More than 1,800 people have signed the petition, but to no avail.

Commenters on the petition said it was important to “keep live theater alive.”

For the past 14 years, Center Stage has provided a wide variety of entertainment, including two concerts by Broadway star and Fontana native David Burnham this season.

Vigiletti said the theater appealed to an audience consisting of all age groups with its modern and classic musicals and original productions such as the Saturday Night Supper Club (featuring Big Band music and dancing).

“It’s been a wonderful run for us,” Vigiletti said. “We’ve loved being a part of this city all these years.”

He said he feels sad for the service staff members who are losing their jobs. There were 25 employees plus the performers (many of whom were Fontana residents).

The shows attracted patrons from all over Southern California, but about 20-25 percent of the attendees lived in Fontana, and another 25 percent were from nearby cities, Vigiletti said.

The venue also hosted numerous salsa dance events called Noches con Ritmo. Plus, Center Stage was utilized for Fontana Chamber of Commerce luncheons, the Miss Fontana Pageant, weddings, quinceaneras, and city and county functions.

Warren said the arts will continue to play a vital role in Fontana.

“We remain committed to providing innovative and exceptional cultural art engagement and programming through visual and performing art programs, partnerships, and education opportunities,” she said. “We look forward to your patronage when the theater re-opens next year as the premier venue of its kind in the Inland Empire.”



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