How is the health of local legit theater? Challenges confront Center Theatre Group and others

| October 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

THEATRE ROW is nearby, but is now endangered, on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Theaters large and small in Los Angeles are facing post-pandemic and other challenges.

Very close by, on Santa Monica Boulevard west of Vine Street to about Hudson Avenue, is “Theatre Row” — a bustling center for theater performance and acting instruction for 50 years. The district received official City of Los Angeles designation in 2015. However, since at least August of this year, a centerpiece building housing multiple studios and theater spaces, “The Complex,” has feared a loss of its lease at the end of this year. Stay tuned.

Not too much further away, at the venerable Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre — integral parts of The Music Center for 55 years — there also are rumblings about the future. No, these definitely are not leasing or real estate rumblings (the County of Los Angeles being an enlightened landlord); these are patron / customer rumblings.

Without patrons, no theater company can survive. And now, coming off COVID-19 closures for the past two years, neither of these re-opened Center Theatre Group auditoriums is as full as in the pre-pandemic days.

The current president of the nonprofit Center Theatre Group’s board of directors is lawyer and Windsor Square resident Amy Forbes. (CTG also operates the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.) Forbes told the Chronicle that CTG not only brings great theater to Los Angeles, “it also offers robust educational and theater training programming, for free, to a wide range of children all over the region.”

MARK TAPER FORUM is on the re-designed Music Center Plaza, just in front of the Ahmanson Theatre.
                                               Photo courtesy of The Music Center

But, Forbes warns, “With the crush of the pandemic, our theaters are in peril. The Ahmanson, Taper and Douglas recently reopened their doors after they were closed for more than two years. But, it seems it’s hard to get people back in the habit of leaving their houses and going out to the theater … in person.”

To remind us nearby residents of the joy of attending live theater, the Ahmanson is offering a discount to Larchmont-area residents. See the ad on page 14 in this Dining & Entertainment Guide. Forbes convincingly argues: “As Angelenos, we have a responsibility to keep our institutions strong. You can help do that, while doing something fun at the same time.” The CTG board’s goal “is to rebuild our audiences and get people back into the theater-going habit.”

At a recent gathering in support of another nonprofit organization, CTG managing director and CEO Meghan Pressman emphasized this same point, reminding us that, “theater creates an extraordinary connection between artists and audiences that only starts on the stage. Theater creates the energy that feeds a city, a culture and a society. Theater reflects the community it serves.”

CAST MEMBERS of “2:22 — A Ghost Story” in Los Angeles are, left to right: Constance Wu, Anna Camp, Adam Rothenberg and Finn Wittrock.

Right now (starting October 29 and playing until December 4), at the Ahmanson, patrons can experience “a supernatural thriller” (how handy for the Halloween season!) … and at a discount for locals who use the promotion code! The play, “2:22 — A Ghost Story,” stars Constance Wu, Anna Camp, Adam Rothenberg and Finn Wittrock.

Later in the month, on November 15, the Mark Taper Forum presents the West Coast premiere of “Clyde’s,” described as “a new comedy that serves up the story of ordinary characters with big dreams.”

From December 13 to January 1, the Ahmanson will present “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations,” a new Broadway hit musical that follows The Temptations’ journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Learn more about the CTG theaters’ 2022/2023 season:


“AIN’T TOO PROUD — The Life and Times of The Temptations” brings the national touring company to Los Angeles, featuring, left to right: Marcus Paul James, Jalen Harris, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Harrell Holmes Jr. and James T. Lane. Photo by Emilio Madrid

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Category: Entertainment

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