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$200,000 Laguna Playhouse renovation gets Planning Commission’s OK

$200,000 Laguna Playhouse renovation gets Planning Commission’s OK
Plans call for the Laguna Playhouse, built in 1968, to get an exterior renovation including new stucco, a new color palette and a stainless steel-mesh wall. The Laguna Beach Planning Commission approved the concept Wednesday. (Courtesy of city of Laguna Beach)

The Laguna Playhouse is on its way to getting a new look.

The Laguna Beach Planning Commission this week gave its approval for an estimated $200,000 renovation project for the Laguna Canyon Road performing arts center.

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The plans next head to the City Council.

Administrators of the 404-seat theater, which was built in 1968, are looking to apply new smooth stucco for the building, change its color palette, install a new tile hardscape on a ramp and courtyard area, construct metal canopies, add new lighting and landscaping and redesign the box office windows.

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Despite the cosmetic changes, upgrades and additions, the theater’s distinctive terrace architecture will remain, city officials said.

Plans for the theater, which is owned by the city and leased to the nonprofit Laguna Playhouse, also call for a new sign program consisting of three banners promoting upcoming productions and a fourth advertising the current one.

The playhouse also is looking to install a stainless-steel mesh wall that would face Laguna Canyon Road.

Though the commission Wednesday unanimously approved the playhouse plan in concept, members said they want to see design samples in person, namely the stucco, color tones, tiles and stainless-steel mesh.

If the City Council approves the plans, commissioners will review the samples and give their blessing.

Melanie Griffith and Nick Tag perform in “The Graduate” earlier this year at the Laguna Playhouse.
Melanie Griffith and Nick Tag perform in “The Graduate” earlier this year at the Laguna Playhouse. (Photo by Ed Krieger)

Joe Hanauer, a member of the playhouse board, said the venue attracted 100,000 patrons last year over 330 performances. The playhouse is used all year, with a short dark period in November. That’s when officials hope to start major demolition work that can’t be done while shows are running.

The renovation proposal coincides with the Laguna Playhouse’s 50th anniversary at its current facility. The organization, however, dates to 1920, making it one of the longest continually operating nonprofit theaters on the West Coast.

Bradley Zint is a contributor to Times Community News.

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