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Opinion

On the Town: Alex Theatre celebrates 94th anniversary with fundraising campaign

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At its “Summer Sing,” Chorus director Ki Park directs the first rehearsal of the season for the Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Today is the 94th birthday of the Alex Theatre. It was on Sept. 4, 1925, that the doors to the Alexander Theatre, as it was known then, opened.

That name stuck for 15 years until the shortened name was used beginning in 1940. That was the year that architect S. Charles Lee designed the Art Deco 100-foot tower and marquee so that the theater could be seen over the shops that blocked its view from Brand Boulevard.

The tower and marquee stand today, along with the terrazzo floor and kiosk at the entrance.

The theater’s name change came about because “Alexander” was too long to fit on the 3-D marquee. It was officially shortened to “Alex.”

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TV show host David Letterman once said it could easily have been renamed “Al.”

To celebrate the theater’s birthday, the Alex board is asking for $94 donations. The funds will support ongoing repairs to the neon tower and marquee.

If the donor is one of the first 94 donors by today, they will be entered to win a pair of Alex Theatre tickets for the 2019-20 season. The estimated value is $750.

According to Elissa Glickman, chief executive of Glendale Arts. which manages the Alex, if the donor is unable to donate $94 all at once, they can break it into payments.

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To make a donation today to be among the first 94 people to donate and be entered to win the Alex season tickets, go to AlexTheatre.org

The Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus is a little younger than the Alex. The chorus has been going strong for 60 years.

On Aug. 26, a couple dozen singers gathered for the group’s “Summer Sing” rehearsal at the La Crescenta Presbyterian Church. Sugar snacks added some early energy to the proceedings.

Chorus director Ki Park introduced herself to the newcomers.

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Brand new to the Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus is Burbank resident Sunny Soh.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

“I’m Korean. I’m short. I’m a mid-aged woman,” she said.

Looking far younger than her years, Park majored in piano performance at Cal State Northridge. She also attended USC as an accompanist major.

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Park became familiar with several languages including German and French. She takes no salary and said she is “giving my service to this church.”

She is considering forming a second chorus that would meet in the evenings for rehearsals.

In addition, Park sings at the First Presbyterian Church in Monrovia. She also juggles a family with a husband and two children. After her introduction, Park got down to the business of conducting.

The first number was an up-tempo rendition of “All That Jazz.”

New to the chorus is accompanist Jung Hee An. Park called her “a great pianist.” Hee An is also the assistant choral accompanist at Crescenta Valley High School.

Also new to the chorus is Sunny Soh from Burbank. Park met her while Soh was taking a class at Glendale Community College. Park persuaded her to join the chorus.

Soh will be paying annual dues of $115, as do the other chorus members. A portion of the funds as well as monies from a future concert will allow many chorus members to attend for free the annual convention of the California Women’s Chorus Inc.

The convention will be held next year in Santa Ana.

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La Crescenta resident Jeanne Long is the music librarian for the chorus. She makes sure each chorus member has the fall music in her folder. Long joined the women’s chorus in 2012 and has been singing in church choirs since she was 17 years old.

Other choir officers include Suzy Duff, president of the chorus. Duff was not present at the rehearsal.

Peggy Smith is vice president. She joined the group three years ago because, as she puts it, “I love to sing.” Smith is a first soprano.

Arlene Massimino wears two hats. She is chorus program chair and publicity chair. She is also an active member of the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild. Massimino has been singing with the chorus for over 10 years.

The women’s chorus has entertained civic organizations, women’s groups, church groups and senior-living communities. The chorus meets every Monday to rehearse from September to June.

No auditions are necessary to join the group. Potential singers may call Park at (818) 720-6465.

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