Pasadena Playhouse begins hosting performing arts events, but recovery still uncertain

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The Pasadena Playhouse said Monday that it will host three performing arts events in the coming weeks, marking the first time that the company’s mainstage will see activity since budgetary woes forced it to go dark in February.

But the announcement, which was made by company leaders, was vague about the playhouse’s current financial situation and shed little light on its timetable for recovery.

Sheldon Epps, the company’s artistic director, said the playhouse is continuing its reorganization process and that the new events represent ‘a step in our exploration of the possibilities of greater use of our theater as a performing arts complex.’

In January, the company announced that it faced more than $1.5 million in debt and loans, as well as $500,000 in immediate bills. The theater also laid off much of its staff.


The playhouse likely won’t see much revenue from the upcoming events. A spokeswoman said the playhouse is charging the participating arts groups ‘a very minimal fee’ for the use of the mainstage.

‘Jazz at the Playhouse’ (May 28-30) is the first of the events and consists of three evenings produced by the Pasadena Jazz Institute. The series will include ‘Bond and Other Spy Classics’ featuring the Pasadena Jazz Orchestra; ‘Bird with Strings’ featuring the Pasadena Symphony; and ‘An Evening with Gershwin’ featuring pianist Bill Cunliffe.

‘Ovations’ (June 4-6) is a musical revue that will include songs from shows such as ‘Chicago’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ Also featured will be Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and “O Saya” from the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ The production features students from the Blair IB School in Pasadena.

Richard Wagner’s opera ‘Die Feen’ (June 11-19) will run for four performances in a new production by the Lyric Opera of Los Angeles. Wagner’s first completed opera is rarely performed and is being staged as part of the Ring Festival L.A.

-- David Ng


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