Show goes on despite closure

The Glendale Centre Theatre announced last week that it will be offering Pasadena Playhouse season ticket holders the opportunity to watch, for free, the iconic Glendale theater’s production of “Kiss Me, Kate,” which opens Thursday.

Pasadena Playhouse, in operation since 1917, held its last curtain call Sunday for its performance of “Camelot.” The theater’s closure was announced Jan. 30.

Glendale Centre Theatre, at 324 N. Orange St., will set aside a select number of seats for each performance of the musical, on a first-come first-served basis, during the show’s run, which ends April 3, said Glendale Centre Theatre Executive Producer Tim Dietlein.

The number of seats for each show will vary from night to night, and Pasadena Playhouse patrons will not be able to secure a seat if a performance is sold out, Dietlein said.

While the Pasadena Playhouse is conscious of the efforts of other theater houses and organizations who have offered their assistance, it is not officially endorsing any assistance at this time, said Patty Onagan, director of marketing and communications for the historic playhouse.

The Center Theatre Group, whose theaters include the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre and Kirk Douglas Theatre; the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada; and the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, have expressed interest in assisting Pasadena Playhouse, Onagan said.

“This is not something we are advocating; this is not something that we are telling our subscribers,” Onagan said by phone from her office in Pasadena. At the same time, “we are so grateful. Right now we’re just keeping a list of everyone that wants to help.”

As such, Glendale Centre Theatre has been “low key about it,” Dietlein said as he sat on the set of “See How They Run” Friday afternoon.

“I was shocked,” he said of the Pasadena Playhouse announcement. “The Playhouse is an amazing theater.”

It is not unusual, said Dietlein, who is a third-generation producer at Glendale Centre Theatre, to see performance arts venues come together in support of one another. One recent example is when Music Theater of Southern California closed in 2001, he said.

“They called a number of theaters and asked if they would be willing to let its season ticket holders come, because [they couldn’t] refund their tickets,” Dietlein said. While theater attendance is low due to the economy, Dietlein assured Glendale Centre Theatre that patrons need not worry that their theater would end up in the same boat as the Pasadena Playhouse. For starters, the Pasadena Playhouse is a nonprofit that depends on donations, and Glendale Centre Theatre is a for-profit, Dietlein said. Glendale Centre Theatre also divides the technical work among its staff, technicians and performers. The theater will have actors onstage one night, and those same actors will be hanging lights the next afternoon. This reduces the cost of having to hire additional staff and technicians, Dietlein added.

“We are not able to hire big crews, big staff,” he said. “The way my grandparents [and] my parents started the theater [was] you do everything. Because I do that, it cuts the expenses down a little bit. We’re able to weather the storm a little bit.”

Ticket prices are also relatively low, he said, with general admission tickets starting at $21.


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