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The Many Stages of a Festival : Seven theaters will offer two days of plays, revues and stand-up comedians in a North Hollywood celebration that also will feature the visual arts.

June 18, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly for The Times

Theater lovers may feel as if they've won the lottery. And visual arts enthusiasts also will be rewarded this weekend when the recently formed NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood presents its first NoHo Performing Arts Festival.

During the two-day festival that begins Saturday morning, seven theaters in the North Hollywood area will offer various plays, revues and stand-up comedians throughout each day and evening. All events are free except the regularly scheduled evening performances at participating theaters.

Free shuttle buses will take people to and from the theaters and the central festival site, the Academy Plaza. Located at the corner of Lankershim and Magnolia boulevards, it is home to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Those with good time-management and organizational skills can probably catch as many as eight different free performances during the two days.

Additionally, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days, the Academy Plaza will feature continuous music and dance entertainment, more than 75 arts and crafts booths in which artists will sell their works, and a student art exhibit. At least 10 booths will sell Mexican, Italian, Greek, African and other foods. At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the Academy movie theater will screen "Little Shop of Horrors," starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. Admission to the show is $2.

"We hope to have a major event for the community, and to promote this area as an arts district," said Jim Mahfet, executive director of the Universal City-North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The cultural affairs committee of the chamber has organized the festival in conjunction with the Cultural Affairs Department of the city of Los Angeles and the Academy North Hollywood Business and Entertainment Center.

Referring to the marathon stage performances, Mahfet said, "There has been no theater performance of this type" in the Valley.

"We want to make this a thriving arts district. What we hope to achieve is enough high profile so that people recognize the theater that is in the Valley," said David Cox, co-founder and artistic director of the American Renegade Theater in North Hollywood and organizer of the Valley Theatre League. The league has been instrumental in the coordination of the theater festival.

Planning for this NoHo festival began last fall when the chamber's cultural affairs committee and the Valley Theatre League were initially formed. To publicly identify the NoHo Arts District, community organizers decided a mural at the corner of Lankershim and Magnolia depicting the arts district logo would be impressive. The district, just east of the Hollywood Freeway, is bounded by Burbank Boulevard at the north and Camarillo Street at the south, and Cahuenga and Tujunga boulevards at the east and west.

Designed by painter and actor Paul Vent, who is appearing in American Renegade Theatre's production of "Artichoke" on Saturday and Sunday nights, the mural will be completed in time to greet festival attendees. Students from North Hollywood High School assisted Vent in the painting.

Theater presentations during the festival range from "Crazy Words, Crazy Tunes," by the Acme Comedy Theatre at the Acme Comedy Playhouse to "A Portion of Doll's House," a deconstructionist view of Ibsen's play performed by the Basement Theatre company at the American Renegade Theatre. Actors Alley Theatre will present "The Trouble with Harry Cohn," directed by and starring Len Lesser, as well as an adaptation of Chekhov's "The Bear."

On Saturday, Art of the Dance Theatre will stage continual dance pieces performed by children from the community under the direction of Maureen Kennedy Samuels. "A Woman's Place," a Synthaxis Theatre Company play with Estelle Busch, is scheduled at the Group Repertory Theatre Company.

On Stage Theatre Company's presentation of Moliere's "The Misanthrope" takes place both Saturday and Sunday evenings at the Limelight Playhouse. Admission is $10. Individuals looking for a little more action may want to attend the "Urban Rave" dance event at Wild Walls Inc., a high-tech sound studio, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday night. Admission is $15.

Entertainment on the Academy Plaza begins Saturday morning with orchestra, choral and dance groups from North Hollywood area schools. The student art exhibit will display work by students from North Hollywood High, Camellia Elementary, Lankershim Elementary, Oxnard Elementary, Walter Reed Junior High, Fair Elementary and Strathern Elementary.

The opening ceremonies, at noon Saturday, will spotlight Kevin Dobson of "Knots Landing." He was one of the original founders of the Group Repertory Theatre Company.

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