The Pasadena Playhouse, located at 29 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, is one of the most innovative and oldest theaters in American history. Often called “Hollywood’s Talent Factory,” this 686-seat auditorium is currently the venue for the play God Looked Away, which will be playing until March 19th this month. The play stars Al Pacino and Judith Light in a story about the famous playwright Tennessee Williams working on his last play in Chicago. Don’t miss God Looked Away, directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, written by Dotson Radar, and put on by PlayWorks. PlayWorks is an organization that is dedicated to putting on the work of playwrights at various stages of their careers. It also arranges productions and readings for playwrights to get feedback straight from their audiences.
The history of the Pasadena Playhouse starts with the Gilmor Brown Players. They were an acting troupe that came to Pasadena, California in 1917. In 1924, the acting troupe moved into the Pasadena Playhouse, which was newly built with donations. Since 1937, it was named the Official Theater of the State of California, and it is also a Historic Place. Sheldon Epps is the current Artistic Director of the theater.
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Many famous and well-loved Hollywood actors are alumni of the Pasadena Playhouse “Star Factory,” also known as its College of Theater Arts. Notable alumni include Gene Hackman, Sally Struthers, Leonard Nimoy, Dustin Hoffman, Wayne Brady, and Raymond Burr, to name a few.
If you are interested in learning more about the amazing history of the theater, you can tour the Pasadena Playhouse for free and explore the building. Optional donations are appreciated. Plan on scheduling a tour ahead of time with the playhouse by calling. Some say you might even run into Gilmor, the ghost of the playhouse. While touring the playhouse, you can see sets that are under construction, visit the Carrie Hamilton Theatre, view the theater’s Library, and have a behind-the-scenes experience in the Green Room.
Let them know if you have a special interest, and your tour can be tailored to that area. For example, did you know the Pasadena Playhouse was the first theater in American history to host performances Shakespeare’s complete canon of plays? The playhouse is also home to the Pasadena Playhouse Archives. The collection features historical photographs, play programs, and more materials that date all the way back to the 1910s. Tours can be reserved for individuals or for a group experience.
To learn more about other productions at the Pasadena Playhouse, or productions that are coming soon, check the box office calendar on the playhouse’s website to see what is coming to Pasadena. You won’t be disappointed to attend a Pasadena Playhouse production, known for showcasing amazing talent, presenting groundbreaking work, and contributing to diversity in theater.
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The playhouse is a nonprofit theater that runs on donations. It is also known for its Outreach and Education programming, including the New Generations Theater Access Program. The program makes theater productions available to students who are 18-years-old or younger. This program brings young students to the theater who may not have the opportunity to be exposed to the arts and provides time with the PPST Teaching Artist Corps to promote and advance theater education. In this past season alone, 3,000 students were introduced to the world of theater.
If you’re interested in theater and giving back to the community, you can volunteer with the FRIENDS of the Pasadena Playhouse. Volunteers contribute to important work in the office, with public relations, meals, the theater newsletter, special events, ushering, and more. Also, take a moment to check out the blog on the playhouse’s website, where interviews with actors are featured and casting announcements are made. You can also check in for behind-the-scenes posts on set design and coverage on special events.
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