Relax at Film on Friday and help the Historic Elitch Theatre get new lease on life

Jose Antonio Mercado is a man with a big, big dream -- to renovate the Historic Elitch Theatre, a dilapidated Denver landmark with a rich history, and refurbish both the building and its legacy. And Mercado, an actor, director and teacher made famous on the local level for his work with at-risk students at North High School, doesn't just see his dream as merely a temple to the dramatic arts. He also dreams of a community center, where youth in the arts can thrive.

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Mercado's been fundraising furiously for a few years now, and recently was offered a chance at a $425,000 grant from the city, provided he could raise 25 percent of that amount in matching fund by a June 30 deadline. When, in spite of stepped-up donations, he still fell short, the city offered an extension until July 11.

Obviously, Mercado is more than happy to accept direct donations. But there is another easy way to pitch in, while making a lovely evening of it.

The Elitch Theatre's outdoor Film on Fridays series, curated by film historian Tom Delapa, will present the sci-fi classic of all classics, The Day the Earth Stood Still, tonight at dusk on the outdoor plaza. For the series, which started in June, Delapa has chosen films that star Elitch alumni; Day heroine Patricia Neal performed there in 1947.

Gates open at 7 p.m. for music and bring-your-own picnicking; seating is also BYO, so come prepared. A $5 donation for adults is requested, but kids ages 12 and under get in free; for a complete schedule or to make a donation, visit the Historic Elitch Theatre online.

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