LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is closing its doors in Downtown Los Angeles after over half a century of entertaining children and their families, but the puppet shows will continue at a new home.
The theater announced Tuesday that its final day at its First St. location will be Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving – exactly 55 years after puppeteer Bob Baker opened the theater in 1963.
The marionette troupe’s beloved Nutcracker performances will continue at a new location: the Pasadena Playhouse, starting Nov. 24. The puppets will also appear in special shows at several locations, including the Santa Monica Pier.
A statement from executive director and head puppeteer Alex Evans says an announcement is coming “soon” on the theater’s new location, and that it will not be part of a new mixed-use development planned on the theater’s current site.
Even though the theater, located at 1345 W. 1st St, was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2009, its future had been in jeopardy since 2014, when developer Eli Melech proposed a 102-unit apartment/retail complex on the site.
The new development, given final approval in July 2016, is designed so that it will surround and preserve the original theater building. However, the Los Angeles Conservancy reports that the theater itself will be “truncated and converted into a residential lobby,” and the puppet studio and party room turned into a common area for apartment residents.
Although previous reports had stated the theater would move back in after construction was completed, Evans said Tuesday that a new off-site location has been chosen:
“…with an incredible amount of growth and success in the past few years, a future Bob Baker that continues that growth and shares the magic will be best served at a new location – where we will continue to showcase Bob Baker shows as Bob and his team made them, expand our programming and partnerships, build new shows and puppets, properly preserve and restore the endless pieces of art, and most of all open our doors to share the incredible resource that I so gleefully enjoy.”
The theater recently became a nonprofit foundation and is actively seeking donations. The theater’s founder and namesake, Bob Baker, died of natural causes in 2014 at age 90.