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Theater Troupe Will Get a Pitch to Move to Uptown

July 22, 1993|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — The Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday pledged its determination to persuade an award-winning Silver Lake theater company to relocate in downtown Glendale.

In a unanimous vote, agency members said they have a "strong desire" to lure the Colony Studio Theatre to the Uptown area, where it could help bolster an emerging theater district.

Glendale is competing with Burbank and Pasadena as the potential new home of the nonprofit repertory theater company, which has outgrown its 99-seat facility at 1944 Riverside Drive.

A poll of the company's 2,800 subscribers found that the most desirable new location would be in Glendale, Burbank or Pasadena, in that order, said Earl Katz, the company's development director. The company is seeking a mid-size theater of about 20,000 square feet and with 300 seats, Katz said.

Burbank officials already have proposed a potential site in the downtown San Fernando Road redevelopment area, which Katz said "would be an ideal situation for us." He said Burbank officials "are working diligently" to entice the company to move to their city.

But Robert M. Tague, director of Burbank's Community Development Department, said that discussions with the company "are very preliminary" and that no formal action has been taken, nor have financial incentives been discussed.

Tuesday's endorsement was the first public action by a Glendale city agency. Redevelopment agency members cautioned that they, too, are not discussing any financial incentives "at this time," according to the group's director, Jeanne Armstrong.

"Live theater is good for business and will strengthen the cultural base of the community," Armstrong said in a report to the agency Tuesday. "The addition of Colony Theatre would be a significant enhancement to such a district and strengthen Glendale's potential for an active and healthy entertainment district."

Armstrong said the Colony Theatre would offer another entertainment alternative in the Uptown area, where two successful theater companies--Glendale Centre Theatre and A Noise Within--already exist. The historic Alex Theatre, being converted into a cultural arts center, is scheduled to launch its inaugural season this fall. Several buildings and sites in the Uptown area have been proposed as potential locations for the Colony Theatre. Under consideration are city fire station 21, at Orange and Harvard streets; the Capitol Theatre and Glendale Twin Theatre on Brand Boulevard; several existing vacant large retail spaces; the Department of Public Social Services building on Broadway at Louise Street, and a proposed redevelopment project along the east side of Brand in a two-block area south of Broadway.

Founded in 1975 by a group of young Los Angeles television actors, the Colony Theatre has experienced phenomenal growth while other theaters nationwide were hit hard by the recession, Katz said.

"We have been oversubscribed and virtually sold out for the past couple of years," he said.

Katz attributes the success to a strong management team and a consistent production of hit shows, such as "Candide," which sold out within days after opening in 1992.

The company has received 18 awards from the L.A. Drama Critics Circle, as well as national prizes from the American Theatre Critics' Assn., including the grand prize last year for its production of "Could I Have This Dance?"

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