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California Music Theatre Moving to Old Pasadena : Stage: The Raymond Theatre has fewer seats but should be less expensive to operate.

July 04, 1991|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

California Music Theatre is moving to the Raymond Theatre in Old Pasadena, four blocks northwest of its former home at Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

The new venue seats 1,910--approximately 1,000 fewer than the Pasadena Civic. Artistic director Gary Davis said actors will no longer have to wear body mikes at the new hall. Critics of CMT productions have often chided the Pasadena Civic's sound system and lack of intimacy.

By using non-union crews at the Raymond, CMT will cut costs by $200,000 a year. Unlike the Pasadena Civic, the Raymond has no contract with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes, the stagehands' union.

The union will mount an informational picket line at CMT shows, said Jim Matousek, business representative for the union's Local 33, starting with "Show Boat," scheduled for Sept. 11-29. The union has already picketed some of the rock and pop acts that have played the Raymond.

"I've got no use for unions," acknowledged Gary Folgner, who bought the theater last fall for $2.5 million and has invested $400,000 in renovations there. "I tried to get in the plumbers union many years ago, and they wouldn't let me in."

The CMT's per-production rent at the Raymond will be approximately $15,000 higher than at the nonprofit Pasadena Civic, and some additional equipment rentals will be necessary, said Davis. However, the savings on salaries for stage crews will still enable the group's annual budget to be lowered 5% because of the move.

The Raymond dates from 1921, 10 years before the Pasadena Civic was constructed. Both halls were designed by the same architect, J. Cyril Bennett. The audience configurations are similar, said Davis, though the Raymond is narrower.

Davis expects increased foot traffic at the new address, pointing to the many shops and restaurants in Old Pasadena. And he said the diminished seating capacity will create "an immediate aura of success." The Pasadena Civic could be half full, and "people would say 'They're not doing well.' If the same number of people come to the Raymond, everyone will say 'This is a hit.' "

CMT will provide the Raymond with three months of secured bookings per year.

Folgner acknowledged that the concert business is currently soft. Only three one-night acts have been booked into the Raymond in July.

The rental agreement will take CMT through 1992. The organization's current season will continue with "Show Boat," starring Van Johnson, and "The Wizard of Oz." Plans for 1992 include David Birney in "Camelot," Jo Anne Worley in "Anything Goes," "My One and Only" and John Schuck in "A Christmas Carol."

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