Alex Theatre gears up for 93rd anniversary

The Los Angeles Ballet Academy is one of the resident companies at the Alex Theatre, which will be celebrating its 93rd birthday on Sunday. Pictured is a rehearsal of a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from earlier this year. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

The historic Alex Theatre in Glendale will be celebrating 93 years of entertainment from 6 to 9 p.m. this Sunday with an anniversary bash meant to unite the local community.

“It’s really about people coming who have either been longtime supporters of the theater or come see a lot of shows,” said Nina Crowe, director of community partnerships for Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that operates the theater.

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“Then there’s also quite a few people that have never been, who will have the opportunity to see the theater for the first time,” she added.

Free and open to the public, guests will have the opportunity to take self-guided tours of the 1,413-seat, city-owned theater and participate in a scavenger hunt and silent auction.

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The theater’s stage crew will be on hand throughout the venue to demonstrate how the sound and stage lighting work, as well as show off the 35mm projector, giving a behind-the-scenes peek into how the magic happens.

“Our mission is providing access to the arts,” Crowe said.

The landmark theater’s concession team has concocted a themed cocktail, called the art-tini, just for the event. The variation on a classic martini will be served in hues of either red, orange, yellow, blue or purple. Those who receive a purple-colored cocktail will win a free drink coupon, Crowe said.

Attendees will also be able to sample locally-made food, drinks and sweets from vendors including All India Cafe, Serendipity Cupcakes and Lolli & Pops.

While there is no formal schedule, Glendale Arts chief executive Elissa Glickman and board chair Vincent Espinoza will be delivering opening remarks. Other speakers will be City Councilwoman Paula Devine and state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman.

Originally opened in 1925 as a Vaudeville theater and movie palace, the Alex is now home to resident companies — the Alex Film Society, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Glendale Youth Orchestra, Los Angeles Ballet Academy, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Musical Theatre Guild. It also hosts music, dance, theater and comedy performances, as well as film screenings, cultural celebrations, location shoots, business meetings and fundraisers.

The theater this year has received a record of $140,000 in grants, according to Crowe. The funds will be used to purchase and install a digital projector and other modernization upgrades, such as e-ticketing.

A grant from the L.A. County Arts Commission will be used to support the theater’s third annual Open Arts & Music Festival, slated for Sept. 15.

Last year, theater officials announced at a City Council meeting that the festival lost money, which Crowe said was due to budgeting miscalculations partially tied to holding the event in a novel location.

With the grant and last year’s experience under their belts, “we’ve been able to manage our costs much better,” Crowe said.

The Alex is located at 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale.

For more information about the free event, visit glendalearts.org.

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