Downtown Albuquerque’s KiMo Theatre has served as an entertainment and performance venue since the Pueblo Deco icon opened back in 1927. The historic theater has seen its ups and downs over the decades, having survived a fire that claimed its original stage in the early ’60s, closed its doors as a movie theater in 1970 and gone though a series of renovations by the city starting in the 1980s. Most recently, the theater endured an extended period of darkness thanks to the COVID pandemic.
March 2020 was the last time the theater was open to the public. But the City of Albuquerque took the two-year downtime as an opportunity to give the much-loved venue a makeover. The backstage dressing rooms were rebuilt and modernized, the stage got a whole new surface, a state-of-the-art digital projection system was added, a new HVAC system was installed and some new murals were commissioned to spruce up the interior. “The building needed some attention, and being closed gave us opportunities we haven’t had before for maintenance, upgrades and repairs,” says Bree Ortiz, the City of Albuquerque’s community events division manager. “The largest project was getting all six roofs replaced!” Plans were afoot to reopen the building in the fourth quarter of 2021, but construction delays and an extended pandemic shutdown allowed the city to add even more items to the to-do list. Now, the work is done and the city is ready to show off Downtown’s crown jewel.
In addition to upgrading certain elements, some of the space was reconfigured. The underused box office on the corner of Fifth and Central has been replaced with the new Fifth Street Salon. “The KiMo didn’t have a space for special activities, like meet and greets, VIP receptions, merchandise sales, book signings, etc,” explains Oritz. “The lobby was the only place to have additional space. The Fifth Street Salon is complimentary with a rental, and the event coordinator can use it to accommodate their event needs.”
On April 1 the KiMo will swing its doors open once again for a special “Re-Meet the KiMo” event. From 4-7pm guests are invited to explore the new/old space and to reacquaint themselves with the performance venue. “The community is invited to be our guest during Re-Meet the KiMo and be reintroduced to the beloved theater,” says Ortiz. “There will be self-guided tours so guests can learn about the renovations and see backstage for themselves.” The city has gone the extra mile to make this re-opening a gala affair. Felix y Los Gatos will be there in the lobby to provide a soundtrack to the visit, performing their particular brand of Tejano blues during the open house. If you get hungry, you can grab a sweet or savory treat from Simply Sinful Donuts ABQ, Blue Door Patisserie or Tania’s Tasty Kitchen. Kamikaze Kitchen & Food Truck will also be there, dishing out Asian fusion cuisine for your dining pleasure. And if you fancy a drink, that new Fifth Street Salon will be hosting local distillery Hollow Spirits, serving up some of its signature New Mexico cocktails.
The KiMo is already lining up events for the near future. Native Guitars Tour presents a night of “Stories & Songs of Native America” on April 30. The “Henry Rollins: Good to See You 2022 Tour” shows up on May 5 with the punk rock icon, author, actor and spoken-word poet headlining another speaking tour mixing political commentary and personal anecdote. For more info on these and other upcoming KiMo events, go to cabq.gov/artsculture/kimo.