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IT’S NOT BROADWAY . . .: But...

IT’S NOT BROADWAY . . .: But it’s close. Sort of. There are more than 30 small theaters operating in the San Fernando Valley, most of them Off-Off-Broadway size, says Edmund Gaynes, vice president of the Valley Theatre League. . . . Having voted for two local theater awards, he’s seen plays at most of the venues. “On the whole, I’d say we have nothing to be ashamed of,” says Gaynes. A high compliment, considering he used to vote for the Tony awards.

WAITING FOR FEMA: Repair work is stalled at the El Portal theater center in North Hollywood while Actors Alley waits for a check from FEMA. A big check. The center was two weeks from opening in January, 1994, when the earthquake dealt a $2.5-million blow to the former silent movie house. . . . The troupe is performing in the 49-seat Storefront while awaiting repairs at two larger spaces.

ANONYMOUS: Cal State Northridge finished building its new performing arts center, but hasn’t christened it. . . . Recently appointed managing director Dave Pier, above, has been showing off the new theater--complete with sound booth, orchestra pit and 500 seats--to arts organizations that might rent it for performances. Pier is also taking calls from any millionaire who would like to have a theatrical namesake.

CAST AGAINST TYPE: Canoga Park’s Pussycat Theater will be recast as the Madrid Theatre if the U.S. Economic Development Administration approves a $2.75-million grant this month. . . . City Councilwoman Laura Chick is sponsoring the effort to build a G-rated 499-seat community theater on the site of the porno movie house that was leveled after the Northridge earthquake.

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PAST ROLES: Rivaling the Madrid for the most dramatic transformation is the new Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. Built in 1928 as a Methodist church, the building was used as a synagogue and a funeral home in the years before the city bought it in 1991. . . . The converted arts center seats 292 people in restored--and padded--church pews.


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