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99-year-old Great Star Theater revitalizes San Francisco Chinatown community

As we celebrate AANHPI heritage, we go backstage to a nearly 100-year-old theater in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The historic theater, located on Jackson Street, is a nonprofit. It’s undergone extensive renovations and cleaning since the pandemic.

New owners, Roger Pincombe and Alice Chu, have brought it back to life, and the theater is now helping to revitalize a community. Built in 1925, there’s a lot of stories in its history — show posters, equipment and the 400-plus red seats inside. Each one of the seats have been reupholstered but have the same frame from nearly 100 years ago.

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee would go to Great Star. Chu said, “Bruce Lee’s parents used to perform literally on this stage … he used to hang out in the alley or in the backstage waiting for them.”

The couple reopened the theater in the summer of 2021. The Great Star has hosted a few hundred different shows, like Chinese operas for the local community, “Vertical Show” featuring world pole champions and a popular Star Wars burlesque parody.

Pincombe said, “It’s exciting to be able to balance – giving the community space for the community and bringing people to the community, which helps everyone else in the community.”

For a look at what shows are coming to the Great Star, visit

Source: NBC Bay Area

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