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Latest Best of LA

LA’s Best Small Performing Arts Theaters

May 13, 2013 6:00 AM

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(credit: 24th Street Theatre)

(credit: 24th Street Theatre)

(credit: Jerusha Liu)

(credit: Jerusha Liu)


The Los Angeles small theater scene consists of locations across the city with a pool of talented cast and crew dedicated to sharing stories and moments on the stage with the audience. To qualify as one of these small theaters, each company must adhere to the Actors’ Equity Association 99-Seat Plan that limits the number of seats to 99 or less. It is this contract that separates small theaters from the mid-size and large companies that tend to receive more publicity due to their capacity and, subsequently, ability to bring in more money. Despite that fact, there are several strong and credible small theaters that are worth their weight in ticket sales.

(credit: The Fountain Theatre)

(credit: The Fountain Theatre)

The Fountain Theatre

5060 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 663-1525
www.fountaintheatre.com

The Fountain Theatre opened its doors in 1990 thanks to co-Artistic Directors Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs. It is a well-respected theater with a history of theatrical productions, dance showcases, developmental and educational programs and international tours. With more than 200 awards under its belt, including four L.A. Ovation Awards for Best Production of the Year and seven L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards, The Fountain remains one of L.A.’s top small theater companies. Several of its community efforts involve a free theater program for people with HIV/AIDS, free outdoors programs in Spanish for young children, a mentorship program for high school students and the development of American Sign Language poetry. Flamenco at The Fountain is a very popular show, and it will also be available for public enjoyment on select Sundays throughout the year.

(credit: Enci)

(credit: Enci)

Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 477-2055
www.odysseytheatre.com

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble is the home of new work creations and reproductions of classic stories. It is also available for outside productions interested in renting one of the building’s three theatres. There are several programs that offer college and high school students the opportunity to learn from experts and create mentoring relationships with people in the business. From playwriting to acting workshops, there is something for everyone with a passion for performance arts. The Odyssey Theatre has racked up more than 300 awards, including six L.A. Weekly Theater Awards and the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Margaret Hartford Award. “Annapurna” is the current production on stage through early June, and it will be followed by “Ionescopade.” There are various discounts for subscribers, student performances, AFTRA/SAG/Equity members and group sales.

(credit: Geoffrey Wade)

(credit: Geoffrey Wade)

The Antaeus Company

5114 Lankershim Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 506-5436
www.antaeus.org

The Antaeus Company stands out due to its focus on classic masterpieces. In 1991, Artistic Director Dakin Matthews and Co-Founder Lillian Groag started the project as an outlet of the prestigious Center Theatre Group. Now, it boasts a library of more than 6,500 single plays and large collection works that inspire each new production. Over the years, various training initiatives, such as The Antaeus Academy for professionals and the Arts Education youth outreach program for at-risk students have been shining lights under the Antaeus Company umbrella. With four Ovation Awards, 14 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards, six L.A. Weekly Theater Awards and 13 Backstage West Garland Awards amongst its list of accolades, The Antaeus Company has strong foundation of excellence. Currently, Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” will run through early July, in addition to the ClassicsFest play readings. Discounted ticket prices are available for seniors, guests under 30 and preview shows.

(credit: 24th Street Theatre)

(credit: 24th Street Theatre)

24th Street Theatre

117 West 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 745-6516
www.24thstreet.org

The 24th Street Theatre is an historical building nestled in an area near South Los Angeles, between the I-110 and I-10 intersection. In 1928, it was originally designed as a carriage house — a home for the horses that traveled up and down the streets of Victorian homeowners of that time. In 1997, the carriage house was turned into a theater that nourishes the local community with productions and programs such as the supervised after-school educational work and the Inner-City Arts/24th Street Theatre Workshop for high school students with a love for performing arts. Various musical artists contribute to the Saturday Explorer series, in addition to its rotating series of award-winning theatrical productions. The 24th Street Theatre can proudly boast its TCG Peter Zeisler Award, which honors risk taking and innovation in the theatrical world. With a focus on offering exposure to the arts for everyone, 24th Street Theatre will also allow low-income local community members of University Park to see a show for just 24 cents. “Walking the Tightrope” is winding down its current run, and soon, the theater will announce its next show.

(credit: Ensemble Studio Theatre)

(credit: Ensemble Studio Theatre)

Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.

Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 644-1929
www.ensemblestudiotheatrela.org

The Ensemble Studio Theatre Company of L.A. was established in 1992 by Founder Curt Dempster and Co-Artistic Directors Risa Bramon Garcia and Debra Stricklin as an off-shoot of the same company in New York. Once the theater made a name for itself here on the West Coast, it began producing shows that have garnered attention nationwide and internationally, both at its home-base of the Atwater Village Theatre and various others. Recent productions include “The Fisherman’s Wife” and “Doesn’t Anyone Know What A Pancreas Is?” The Ensemble Studio Theatre is also known for its monthly Sunday Best program for a presentation of in-progress works that will be constructively critiqued by professionals. Winterfest has also proved to be one of its successful offerings — an opportunity for people to enjoy plays, music, readings and seminars. In 2012 alone, the Ensemble picked up four Back State Garland Awards for exemplary work.

(credit: Daisy Rameriz)

(credit: Daisy Rameriz)

The Long Beach Playhouse

5021 East Anaheim Street
Long Beach, CA 90804
(562) 494-1014
www.lbplayhouse.org

The Long Beach Playhouse was founded in 1929, and now, it is known for producing roughly 13 shows each year between both theaters under its umbrella. It is the Playhouse’s Studio Theatre that fits the small theater requirement with just 98 seats. This year, the line-up includes “Machinal,” “Virgil’s,” “A Midsummer Night’s Gay Dream,” “Equus” and “Avenue Q.” If you are a top ticket subscriber, enjoy free entry to each show, as well as a champagne and hors d’oeuvre reception with the cast. In terms of educational outreach, the Summer Youth Musical Theatre Conservatory is a program for students ages 7 to 17 who love to perform. Because of its acclaimed work, the Playhouse has picked up numerous awards and grants from the L.A. County Arts Commission and the Arts Council for Long Beach. The Long Beach Playhouse does accept outside space rentals for those who may be interested.

Chrystal Baker is a freelance food, events, culture, and travel contributor for CBS Los Angeles, Basil Magazine, Frugivore Magazine and Politic365. She is the co-editor of a recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, and manages her own lifestyle and travel blog, Any and Everywhere, as well as the Farm 2 Plate Culinary Club site.

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