Philip Seymour Hoffman

Can this man save the Pasadena Playhouse?

Can this man save the Pasadena Playhouse?

Danny Feldman pauses for a moment, soaking in the view while taking his beagle Hunter for his morning walk along El Molino Avenue in Pasadena. “Look at all the people — young people, couples, families — so much energy,” he says. “I’m so excited. There’s a Trejo’s Cantina going in here. Margaritas and guacamole before theater! And after theater too!”

Feldman isn’t the president of Pasadena’s Chamber of Commerce, but he may well be the community’s biggest booster. The new leader of the Pasadena Playhouse has returned to his native Southern California after a seven-year stint in New York and he couldn’t be happier.

“This was a theater I came to as a kid,” he says. “I believe this...