Monday, October 31, 2011
My Thoughts on A Noise Within Theatre's New Space
A Noise Within is on the move!
After 19 years in the historic Masonic Temple on Brand in Glendale, A Noise Within has pulled up stakes and moved to Pasadena. (Hey, who wouldn't?!)
Today, I ventured out to my beloved city to check out the repertory theatre's Open House.
After a quick walk from the Metro parking garage (the theatre's lot isn't finished yet), I was accosted by a somewhat bizarre sight:
Originally a pharmaceutical building, the front of ANW's new space has had to stay put, as it's considered an historic landmark. The funky, dated, lattice wall and the award-winning gardens surrounding seemed a little odd for an entrance to a brand-new theatre, but it was kind of cool all the same.
Detail of the lattice wall's funky, yet interesting architecture. Apparently, these same architects were responsible for Carnegie Hall's design, and it felt very similar.
Really loved that they created an outdoor patio space to incorporate the historic design. But with the long, narrow space and latticework, it felt a bit more like you were incarcerated than at a play.
Checking in at the RSVP table, I hopped on a nearby tour. With all my photo taking and question asking, I was yet again "mistaken" for press, which delighted me to no end. And, as is my wont, I "stumped the tour guide" by asking if they had installed a "ghost light" in the new space. An old theatre tradition to ward off any potentially harmful spirits, a single light is hung somewhere in the theatre space that is constantly left glowing. South Coast Repertory has one prominently displayed in both their spaces.
This is ANW's main lobby. After asking several volunteers, the general consensus is that they're leaving the floors as bare concrete, which I personally think is an aesthetic mistake. There is a time and a place for minimalism, but not in a theatre's lobby. Something definitely felt missing, especially with the lack of seating. Although the building started life as a warehouse, it doesn't need to preserve its roots as such. Since the theatre is not yet complete, I shall have to return in a few months to see the finished product and make my final judgment then.
ANW's box office, donated by none other than Disney dude, Michael Eisner.
As they were rehearsing the season's first production, Twelfth Night, I didn't want to use my flash, so apologies the photo is a little blurry. This is the theatre proper. Nearly doubled in size from their old space, there's still a lovely intimacy about the space and the seats are darned comfy! I only wish they didn't have those ugly metal bars at the ends of the aisles, as it reminds me of the horrid Burbank Colony Theatre's tacky design. Perhaps this is just a necessary safety feature in newer theatres?
My favorite part of any theatre (besides the stage itself!) are its dark depths. This is where the magic begins. Actors preparing, costumes being sewn, props being created. This is a shot inside the women's dressing room. Wave to me in the mirror!
It occurs to me now that I forgot to ask whether the theatre has its own "prop shop" somewhere down below. Anyone know?
As the theatre is still in "dress rehearsal," the green room was more of a grey color, which amused me to no end. At least the furniture was green!
Overall, A Noise Within's stage area is adorable. The royal purple and blue color scheme is highly calming, and the seats are super comfy. But the theater building itself is a bit more difficult to comprehend. The odd "maze" of stairways ending in various entrances and exits was a bit odd, especially since none of the volunteers could even figure out where they led. To get into the theatre proper, one must go down a flight of stairs, then choose to head down several other stairways that may or may not lead to your seat. Perhaps I'll understand the layout better once everything is finished, but I personally found it overly confusing.
With some royal blue/purple carpeting (hint hint!) and a bit of paint, I'm sure the place will fluff out very well.