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  • Pamela Froman

SHOWTIME – East to West


Los Angeles has a vibrant theater scene. It supplies productions from one-man plays to musicals to dramatic offerings. Los Angeles started its onstage content in the 19th century, primarily as a pit stop for touring Shakespearean and burlesque companies. By 1912 the Little Theater Movement was spreading across the U.S. cities and companies formed 100-seat theaters to produce more intimate entertainments.

The Colony Theater in Burbank is a well-established, award-winning, nationally recognized company. The theater began in 1975 as a non-profit formed by Los Angeles actors ready to return to their theater roots. It was originally in residence at the 99-seat Studio Theater Playhouse but by the early 90s, the company needed to find a larger home – Burbank. The company moved in 2000, becoming The Colony Theater Company. Recently, the theater’s company has been named among the “25 Notable US Theater Companies” in the Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac.

Currently Doris and Me: Musical Tribute To Doris Day is playing at the Colony. It's a joyful celebration of the music, life and career of Doris Day.

The Colony theater is located at 555 North Third St., Burbank. For tickets call (818) 558-7000 or log onto www.colonytheater.org

Garry Marshall believed in creating live experiences. The Garry Marshall Theater in Toluca Lake does just that. The theater provides innovative performances, educational opportunities, and storytelling activities for all ages. The critically acclaimed and Ovation Award-winning 130-seat theater was founded in 1997 as the Falcon Theater and reestablished as the Garry Marshall Theater in 2017. Garry Marshall Theater offers four full productions of new and classic works in each season, plus summer shows featuring new and emerging artists.

Garry Marshall sparked the careers of Henry Winkler, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, and Anne Hathaway. This entertainment industry giant was also a playwright with a love for live theater. He funded each production of the Falcon out of his own pocket.

The Garry Marshall theater is located at 4252 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank. For tickets call (818) 955-8101 or log onto www.garrymarshalltheater.org

The John Anson Ford Amphitheater was built in 1920. An heiress of the Pittsburgh Paint Company and patron of the arts, Christine Wetherill Stevenson believed the beauty of the Cahuenga Pass would provide the perfect setting for her play – The Pilgrimage. She purchased the land and a wooden, outdoor amphitheater was built. The play was performed every summer from 1920 to 1929, until a brush fire in 1929 destroyed the original structure. The present outdoor theater opened in 1931 and seats 1,200.

In 1976, the Pilgrimage Theater was renamed the John Anson Ford Theater in honor of the late LA County Supervisor's support of the arts. Former County Supervisor Ed Edelman revived the historic theater, spurring the creation of the Ford Amphitheater summer season in 1993. The Ford summer season was designed to enable Los Angeles County music, dance and theater groups to produce successfully in a major venue. The program has blossomed, supporting hundreds of local arts organizations and producers. The Ford theaters has completed a three-year renovation project, and reopened in 2016.

If you miss a show at the Ford that you really wanted to see, don't worry! Each year, LA Channel 36 records 12 of the Ford Summer Season shows for their Ford Theaters Live series. Past episodes are available online. www.la36.org

The John Anson Ford Theater is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. For tickets call (323) 461-3673 or log onto www.fordtheaters.org

El Portal Theater is a historic landmark in the San Fernando Valley located in the heart of North Hollywood. West Coast Theaters opened the El Portal in 1926 as a movie house. Both Laurel and Hardy were known to frequent the El Portal. After the Northridge earthquake there was extensive damage, but the theater reopened in January of 2000.

The once 1400-seat movie palace now houses three theaters – the 42-seat Studio Theater (the permanent home of Stuart Roger's Theater Tribe); the 99-seat Monroe Forum Theater; and the 360-seat Debbie Reynolds MainStage – along with the Judith Kaufman Art Gallery.

In the past fourteen years many celebrities have graced the stages of El Portal including Jason Alexander, Paul Rodriguez, Fritz Coleman, JoAnne Worley, Joseph Bologna, Renee Taylor, Rip Taylor, Adam Corolla, Ileana Douglas, Debbie Reynolds to name just a few.

It's actually because of the El Portal that North Hollywood got its name! Before El Portal, Lankershim had no connection to movie empires being born in Hollywood. But with El Portal came access to the modern world. Less than a year after El Portal's 1926 debut, the town of Lankershim officially renamed itself North Hollywood. Today, the El Portal is the anchor of the NoHo Arts District. Friendly spectral appearances also make the El Portal their home. The ghost is described a man in a gray morning suit who comes down the stairs.

Upcoming shows include LYMAN, a cleverly-constructed rumination on Life and Fate. Aug. 18 - 26; A Night in the Catskills, a new variety show in the style of the shows found at the famous resorts in the Catskills. Sept. 29 - 30; Space Oddity, where the amazing David Brighton returns to El Portal after last year's SOLD OUT concert with his show Space Oddity: The Ultimate David Bowie Experience! Oct. 6.

The El Portal Theater is located at 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. For tickets call (818) 508-4200 or log onto www.elportaltheater.com

The award-winning Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, is one of the cultural jewels of Los Angeles. Formerly known as CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center the name was changed in recognition of a $17 million gift from the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, the foundation of businessman, investor and philanthropist Younes Nazarian and his wife Soraya, an internationally recognized sculptor.

The Soraya’s season offers classical and popular music, dance, theater, family, and international events. The award-winning, 1,700-seat theater was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers.

With artists from 18 nations in seven different series, The Soraya proudly stands at the forefront of diversity and innovation in the arts. Upcoming performances include Aida Cuevas - Totalmente Juan Gabriel with Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán. Sept. 29; and Soweto Gospel Choir, South Africa’s quintessential musical ensemble. The Grammy Award-winning choir has collaborated with biggest names in music – including U2, John Legend, Peter Gabriel, and Diana Ross. Oct. 7.

The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts is located at 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. For tickets call (818) 677-3000 or log onto www.thesoraya.org

Pacific Ballet Dance theater, led by Natasha Middleton, Artistic Director and Choreographer will take their production of the full length ballet, “Carmen” on tour to three venues in Southern California in September 2018 with stops at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, 750 West Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster on Sept. 15, 8 p.m.; Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach on Sept. 22, 8 p.m.; and the Janet & Ray Scherr Forum Theater at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.

The cast will be led by Elen Harutyunyan as Carmen, Gregori Arakelyan as Don José, Preston Swovelin as Escamillo and Damara Titmas as Micaeëla. The ballet is based on Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” and Prosper Mérimée’s original story with Special String and Percussion Musical Arrangements conceived by Rodion Shehedrin.

For tickets log onto www.pacificballetdancetheater.com

The Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza consists of the 1,800-seat Fred Kavli theater and the 394-seat Janet and Ray Scherr Forum theater, which combine outstanding arts and entertainment with state-of-the-art technology and acoustics. The spot is home to touring Broadway musicals, entertainers, award-winning children’s programs, international ballet, folk and modern dance, classical symphonic performances, chamber music, choral ensembles, civic light opera, comedy, distinguished speakers, films, magic, jazz, big band orchestras, and live theater and community programs.

To date, over three million people have patronized the Civic Arts Plaza since its 1994 grand opening. Designed by nationally renowned architect Antoine Predock, the three-acre City complex juxtaposes serene meadowland and park-like vistas with a bustling entertainment center.

Events coming include: Bob Eubanks – Backstage with the Beatles. A one-of-a-kind show featuring Bob and the amazing cover band, Ticket To Ride. Aug. 12; Grammy nominated and multi-platinum selling band Daughtry. Sept. 7; and comedian Kathleen Madigan. Sept. 14.

The Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is located at 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. For tickets call (805) 449-2787 or log onto www.civicartsplaza.com

Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University presents a diverse program of world-renowned and emerging musicians, dance and circus companies, family-friendly events, student productions, and free performances for school children. Rebecca Carson, Managing Director of the Lisa Smith Wengler for the Arts, and Michael Zakian, Museum Director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art Pepperdine University are leading the Center's amazing selections during the 2018–2019 season.

Musicians coming to Pepperdine are jazz band Sammy Miller and the Congregation; Americana country group The Lone Bellow; acoustic folk trio I’m With Her; Celtic bluegrass quartet We Banjo 3; and more.

The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University is located at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. For tickets call (310) 506-4522 or log onto arts.pepperdine.edu

Actors' Repertory Theatre of Simi in conjunction with the Simi Valley Cultural Association will be opening a 116-seat black box theater launching in 2019 at the oldest elementary school in Simi Valley – a CA historic landmark. Three adjacent buildings will create the ARTS Cultural Enrichment Center. ARTS will produce a season of four non-musical productions per year, and offer children's programming on Saturdays, plus theatre classes and workshops

ARTSpace is located onsite at the original Simi Elementary School, 2956 School St. Simi Valley. For tickets log onto www.simi-arts.org

Culture abounds! It's time to view a performance!

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