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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS : Quake Damage Closes Playhouse : The cost to repair plumbing at the West End theater in Van Nuys was estimated at $20,000.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The West End Playhouse in Van Nuys, home to some of the longest-running hits in San Fernando Val ley theater history, closed its doors Sept. 15.

“We’re closing permanently because of plumbing problems,” Artistic Director Edmund Gaynes said. The building’s plumbing was damaged in the Jan. 17 earthquake. Although temporary repairs were made, the problem was only getting worse, Gaynes said. The estimated cost to repair the plumbing was $20,000.

“We regret closing something that has had a wonderful history,” Gaynes said. “We’re not happy to see it go; we’re looking for another facility in the Valley.”

Since opening in 1983, the 83-seat theater has presented several long-running shows, including “Broadway Sings Out,” “Crazy Words, Crazy Tunes,” “Bein’ With Behan,” “The Heirs” and “The Ladies of the Camellias.” The final show, “The Cosmic Pull,” closed Aug. 13.

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Gaynes and his wife, Associate Artistic Director Pamela Hall, will remain active in the West End Artists Theatre Company, including producing a four-show Equity season at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

The West End Playhouse will live on in another way. The theater’s equipment and furniture were sold, and “now there’s a little bit of the West End Playhouse in almost every theater in the Valley,” Gaynes said.

As the Valley loses one theater, it gains another. Theatre 6470 has resurfaced with a new name, a new house and a new show.

The theater company left its previous, smaller space in Hollywood last winter, and has reappeared in NoHo as the Eclectic Company. The company has converted a storefront at 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. into a new 50-seat theater. And opening Oct. 7 is “Six Quickies . . . for a really good time call . . . , " an evening of six one-act comedies.

“It features 20 actors playing 30 characters in six plays in two hours,” said Janet Borrus, an Eclectic Company spokeswoman. “And it includes three West Coast premieres and one world premiere.”

The six quickies are “Seven Menus” by David Ives, “Attack of the Moral Fuzzies” by Nancy Beverly, “Package Deal” and “A Chance Meeting” by Frederick Stroppel, and “Tandem” and “Power Video” by Fredric Sirasky.

The Eclectic Company is different from many other local theater groups, Borrus said. “We’re a collective of actors, directors, producers and writers. There is no artistic director,” she said.

The company has about 30 members who are encouraged to bring their own projects to work on. The collective has mounted about 30 productions in six years.

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Another show, “Livin’ Another Life,” a one-woman show by company member Meegan King, is slated to open Oct. 18. And the Eclectic Company also is producing a touring Shakespeare program for Los Angeles high schools.

“Six Quickies” opens 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood, and will run Thursday through Saturday evenings. Ends Nov. 12. Tickets are $15, two for $20. Call (213) 882-4284.

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VARIETY SHOW: The West Valley Symphony Orchestra will perform the first concert of its 1994-95 season Saturday evening at Pierce College. Music Director James Domine says the program is an eclectic one.

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“There’s no unifying theme,” Domine says. “We’re going for maximum variety.”

The scheduled classical pieces will be the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto in D Major featuring guitar soloist Frank Accardo, and “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov. Additionally, guest conductor Eddie Koch will lead the orchestra in his arrangements of “Music From the Movies.”

The concert marks the beginning of the ensemble’s 14th season, its sixth at Pierce College. The orchestra consists of lawyers, real estate salespeople, teachers and others, as well as some professional musicians, Domine says. Most members of the orchestra have master’s degrees in music. Domine describes it as a graduate-level orchestra, “a cut above” local college ensembles.

“With the talent pool here, an amateur group in Los Angeles is better than many professional groups in other areas of the country,” Domine says.

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“Thirty years ago, these people would have probably been playing professionally,” Domine says. “The level of talent is still out there, but the (musical) employment opportunities are not.”

West Valley Symphony Orchestra will perform 8 p.m. Saturday in the Pierce College Performing Arts Theater, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills. Tickets are $10, $8 senior citizens and students, $5 children under 12. Call (818) 717-0978.


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