The newly renovated Alex Theatre in Glendale, Calif., will open its doors with a New Year's Eve gala that features Robert Guillaume, Peter Marshall and the Glendale Symphony Orchestra.

Organizers hope the event will "start the theater off on a very exciting path," said Larry Clarke, chairman of the Alex Regional Theatre Board, which manages the facility.The symphony will perform in the 1,462-seat theater, with Guillaume, star of television's "Benson" and the local stage production of "The Phantom of the Opera," joining as vocal soloist. Marshall, former host of "Hollywood Squares," will be master of ceremonies.

The Alex - a vaudeville house that became a movie theater - is reopening as a venue for theater, music and other entertainment.

- ON THE ROAD: It looks as though musicals produced for the newly renovated Alex Theatre also will be presented in the new 1,800-seat Civic Auditorium in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

Shows are expected to begin traveling there in February 1995, after the 1,800-seat Civic Auditorium opens in the fall.

The city's Civic Theatres Commission has given the go-ahead for the plaza's programming committee to enter into final negotiations with the Theatre Corp. of America, which handles the Alex's day-to-day operations and programming.

As part of previously announced agreements, the Theatre Corp. is sending Alex shows to the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego and the Warners Theatre in Fresno.

The shows are produced by Pasadena Playhouse Presentations, a nonprofit organization that presents shows in venues that Theatre Corp. manages or operates, including the Alex and the Playhouse.

- ACTORS ALLEY Repertory Theatre recently staged a pre-grand-opening production at its new home in North Hollywood's El Portal Theatre.

The children's show "The Legendary Christmas" played through Dec. 23 in a storefront lab space that has been established on the face of the theater building. It is the first production at the El Portal, a one-night staged reading in April notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, renovations of the El Portal - which will divide it into two auditoriums of 99 and 199 seats - are 80 to 85 percent completed.

The grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 5, when the company opens simultaneous productions of Peter Lefcourt's new play "The Audit" and James Thurber and Elliot Nugent's 1940 play "The Male Animal."

- BAD TIMING: The audience-participation murder mystery "Shear Madness" has been playing for nearly 14 years in Boston and more than 11 years in Chicago. But its West Coast premiere lasted just 1 1/2 weeks in previews and closed after 1 1/2 months of regular performances in the downstairs space at the Improv in Santa Monica.

View Comments

Producer Veronica Chambers attributes the show's poor ticket performance to bad timing. The show opened Oct. 27, as wildfires raged in Thousand Oaks, Altadena, Chatsworth and Laguna Beach. Radio and television interviews and ticket giveaways - which would have helped publicize the show - were canceled or pre-empted.

The next week, the Malibu wildfire scared audiences away from Santa Monica. So word of mouth didn't build like it might have otherwise, Chambers said.

Once the fires were out, the show played to only 40 to 70 paying customers on weeknights and 135 to 150 on weekends - in a space that held 300 to 325 people. Audiences were building slowly, but not fast enough, Chambers said.

"I really believed that this show would run here for at least a couple of years," she said.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.