No foolin’! Saturday night’s Pasadena Playhouse Party was a smashing success.
By Blu Van Zandt
The evening brought together local community members, celebrities, and supporters of the historic Playhouse to thank Assemblymember Chris Holden and the LA Arts Recovery Fund for their support of the Playhouse and arts in general during recent years and through recovery from the pandemic. The evening was presented as a celebration in three acts:
- a vibrant cocktail party and silent auction,
- delightful dinner and awards ceremony, then
- concluding performances, dessert and dancing!
Assemblymember Chris Holden was recognized and honored for his support of the Pasadena Playhouse. Assemblyman Holden was instrumental in securing funds for the Playhouse when in 2016 he secured $1 million to fund necessary renovations and in 2021 he presented the Playhouse with a check for $1.6 million to fund renovations to their HVAC system. Kory P. Kelly, Pasadena Playhouse’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, noted that the renovations to the clean air system have been completed, and Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman was joyful in announcing that the theater would have temperature control for the first time in its long history. Kelly also explained that ticket sales only account for about 50 percent of the costs needed to sustain the work they do, so contributions from the community help cover the remaining amounts needed to fund the Pasadena Playhouse programs.
California’s Official State Theater
The renovations have allowed Pasadena Playhouse to meet government standards necessary to allow the theater audiences back into the grand venue that began its history in 1917. Since its post-pandemic reopening, the Playhouse has welcomed over 30,000 theatergoers to their spring celebration of Stephen Sondheim which includes a variety of performances, including “A Little Night Music.” Later this month, Eleri Ward will present an acoustic repertoire of Sondheim music, and in June the inimitable Bernadette Peters will perform a three-day concert series with some of her music and many Sondheim favorites.
Playhouse Board Chair Dennis Cornell presented an award to the LA Arts Recovery Fund, accepted on their behalf by Jennifer Price-Letscher, interim president and CEO of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Cornell likened the assistance received from the Recovery Fund to a deus ex machina – “a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly or abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence” which surprises the audience and brings “the tale to a happy or comedic ending.” The LA Arts Recovery Fund granted over $36.1 million for post-pandemic rebuilding to 90 small to mid-sized nonprofit cultural organizations representing the visual arts, theater, music, dance, literary arts, and arts education.
During dinner, actress Jane Kaczmarek shared some of her fondest memories of the Pasadena Playhouse. Delightful performances peppered the evening, including a stunning performance by an all-female mariachi band, a rousing presentation by Makoto Taiko Drums; young actress Erica Gonzalez singing “Broadway Baby” from Sunday in the Park with George; a stirring rendition of “Send in the Clowns” by Merle Dandridge; and a heart-pumping song-and-dance routine by the Ladies of Lyric. Also recognized during the evening were Peggy Ebright, who first joined the Children’s Theater in 1963, and the core volunteer supporters, Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse.
Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman thanked the evening’s audience, assuring that their contributions would fund their commitment to restoring the Pasadena Playhouse, ensuring “that it continues for another 100 years.”
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