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Lake Theater to reopen after long wait

State Street landmark undergoes sparkling transformation


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - It has been a long time coming, but owner Drew Prell and events manager Katherine Du Pont are proud and happy about the Lake Theater and Cafe opening this month. New seats, new screen, new everything are featured in the theater portion of the Lake Theater and Cafe. Great movies, new and old, will be shown there.In 1940, the Lake Theater opened with the movie “Another Thin Man.”

In April of 2014 the highly-renovated Lake Theater and Café is being reopened by another thin man, owner Drew Prell.

Prell is slimmer after such a long and harrowing wait for his prize project to be completed, a much longer time than he originally planned. Now the wait is over, and Prell is the picture of enthusiasm as the theater gets ready to open its doors, possibly as early as this weekend.

“It’s a good thing I’ve been in this business for 35 years,” Prell said. “This has taken every bit of my expertise and every bit of my patience. I am so excited about this place. It is so cool.”

Fortunately, Prell had enough patience to wait out a sour economy that threatened to derail his dream. He was given four extensions over the past year in order to have more time to meet the obligations to complete the interior improvements to the theater. If he had not gotten the theater ready by the April 15 deadline, Prell would have had to reimburse the city’s Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) up to $200,000.

There was some concern by city councilors that Lake Oswego would be left liable for “a hole in the ground.” Brant Williams, city redevelopment director, thinks allowing for the extensions was the only way to go.

“The alternative would have been no theater and no improvements,” Williams said. “If the extensions had not been granted we would probably have been left with a vacant space. It was just a question of timing and when the theater reopening would take place.”

“The waiting let me raise a lot of money,” Prell said.

The waiting was bad, but the new theater is good. Prell is happy to note that it includes all of the renovations and improvements he originally envisioned three years ago. To name just a few, there are the fireplaces in two locations, full-service bar, restaurant featuring nationally-recognized chef Scott Shufelt and a glowing new kitchen, 115 new, comfortable seats, new hardwood floors, an event space that already has many organizations clamoring to rent. Three high school class reunions are already slated to be held there.

Prell poured big bucks into his theater and it definitely shows. “It’s dripping with money,” he said, and the new theater exudes that class expected of such a theatrical venue in Lake Oswego. But Prell expects the theater’s appeal to go well beyond the city limits.

He said, “My goal is to make this a social place not just for Lake Oswego but for the whole Portland Metro area.”

Now Prell can pass out the kudos to the people who helped make his theater happen, like construction project leader Nick Bohm and design consultant Andy Davies.

Soon the theater lights will go down and the projector will be flashing with the newest and best cinema productions, and much more is planned by Prell and his event manager Katherine Du Pont. Events like Oscar night, theme week, kids night, special fundraising events, and classic movie nights.

One of the classic movies will be “Another Thin Man.”

The grand opening for the Lake Theater and Café is set for May 1 with the new blockbuster “Grand Budapest Hotel.”

The theater is located at 106 N. State St. in Lake Oswego. The cafe will be open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight. Theater 1 will serve as the main film venue, but there will also be a screen in the special event room.

For updated information, go to laketheatercafe.com or call 503- 482-2135.