Pasadena, CA - The Pasadena Playhouse is an
historical theatre that is situated in the heart of Pasadena, California. The Playhouse had its beginning
in 1917 when Gilmor Brown, a director and actor, started developing some theatrical performances at an old theatre that he
affectionately called the Savoy.
Click Image to Enlarge
small beginnings, the Playhouse quickly grew in popularity.In 1925, Pasadena’s inhabitants raised
enough money to build an elaborate theatre in the center of the city, which for several years was called the Pasadena Community
Playhouse and for more than forty years, it was the most exciting playhouse in Southern California.
The Playhouse was designed by an accomplished builder named
Elmer Grey and over the years of the theatre’s existence, it has attracted the attention of the entire country and has
hosted notable authors such as William Saroyan, Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Eugene O’Neill.
In the late 1920’s, a theatre arts school was established
that became a licensed college by 1937.Many famous people, such as, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Victor
Mature Raymond Burr, Sally Struthers, Charles Bronson, Mako, Jamie Farr, and others were trained there. The Playhouse was
always busy during the school years, with as many as five different stages operating at a time.The Pasadena
Playhouse became the most prolific theatrical making establishment in the United States and the world.
Playhouse became one of the first companies in history to try out new theatrical forms such as “theatre-in-the-round”,
because of the variety of staging capabilities extended by its five venues.As a result of extensive experimenting,
The Playhouse constructed and ran one of the first television stations in Southern California, trained the Air Force to use
radio equipment, television, supplied the bulk of Southern California’s early Television stations with some of the first
trained technicians in the industry.
In 1937, the Playhouse was officially announced as the State Theater of California after performing
the entire Shakespeare collection on one stage for the first time in the United States and was known as one of the best community
theatres in the country.
On a regular basis, the Playhouse showcased new dramas by
relatively unknown playwrights and led a successful and acclaimed acting school.Many outstanding productions
were performed at the theatre, including Lazarus Laughed in 1928 by Eugene O’Neill.
When the founding manager Gilmor Brown died and other changes
began to occur, such as the opening of drama departments in many schools and universities across the country and changes in
Actors Equity Association laws, the theatre became bankrupt in1969. The property was auctioned off in 1970 and for more
than a decade, the theatre was closed, but in 1986, to the delight of many, it reopened, became prominent again, and
continued to present plays in its 672‐seat theatre, until February 7, 2010 after its final showing of the musical Camelot,
because of financial hardship. With more than $2 million in debt, the 85 year old historical playhouse closed in February
and filed for bankruptcy in May 2010, but there is good news, a judge sanctioned the theater's reorganization plan in July
At present, the Pasadena Playhouse is being directed by Sheldon
Epps. A man whose goal of theatrical and ethnic diversity has added new life to the theatre, the result has been reflected
in broad outreach programming and performance seasons.
Click to Enlarge Images
The Playhouse is a nonprofit theatre and produces six plays annually on its main stage. The theatre
continues to serve the Pasadena community through partnerships with social service organizations and schools in the local
area, offering performances and workshops.
The Pasadena Playhouse plans to present a musical in January 2011
and in December of 2010, they will have some companies and their productions generate new audiences and revenue for the theatre.
Click to Enlarge Images
I remember when I was a little girl, my mother would take
my siblings and I to see a few plays at the Pasadena Playhouse. I remember the quaint and nostalgic look of the building and
the warm atmosphere. After every performance, my mother would take us to meet the cast members at the front of the Playhouse.
The cast members were always friendly and would sign autographs for us. This made a lasting impression on me and I will forever
remember my experience. My hope is that the Pasadena Playhouse will remain in operation for future generations to enjoy.
Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Cable Muse Network,
LLC. All rights reserved.