Normally we’d do whatever it takes to not stand in the hot sun in East Pasadena on a Tuesday morning when there’s work to be done, but on this particular hot Tuesday morning, we made an exception. It was the groundbreaking ceremony for A Noise Within, which is moving from its 19-year home in Glendale to midcentury building on Foothill near Sierra Madre Villa that once held Stuart Pharmaceuticals. The turnout was terrific, with every seat under the big tent taken and the many standing jockeying for a position in the shade. In the crowd were colleagues from the Pasadena theatre community, including Sheldon Epps of the newly reborn Pasadena Playhouse and a team of folks from Boston Court; Mayor Bill Bogaard; City Councilmember Steve Haderlein; and all sorts of supporters, patrons, season-ticket holders and media folks.
The speechifying was a little much, as is the norm at such events, but it kicked off with a rousing performance of memorable lines from classic plays, performed by members of the repertory company—the only repertory company in Southern California to focus exclusively on classic theatre, from Molière to Williams, Shakespeare to Dickens, Coward to Ionesco.
Although they called it a groundbreaking, ANW directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott didn’t actually break any ground—the building already exists. But construction is now beginning on the interior renovations that will create a thrust-stage theatre, classrooms, offices, gardens and a learning center and library—ANW currently serves 10,000 students a year, and with the new facilities will double that to 20,000.
All this will take a full year, and they still need to raise another $3 million ($10+ million has already been secured) to finish the job, but everyone present seemed convinced that it won’t be a problem, economy be damned.
In the meantime, A Noise Within will produce one more season of plays in its original Glendale home, with a roster including Great Expectations, Blithe Spirit, The Comedy of Errors, The Chairs, and a return of last season’s boffo hit, Noises Off. The season kicks off with Measure for Measure on September 18th.