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Theater groups feeling pressure

August 08, 2004|Don Shirley

The theater district in North Hollywood, home of the L.A. area's biggest cluster of small theaters, isn't proving to be an especially hospitable place for two of its most prominent companies.

Interact Theatre vacated its rented Bakman Avenue quarters at the end of May. The company's president, Michael Manuel, said Interact was faced with $30,000 in changes to the property in order to comply with legal requirements, mostly related to the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as regular monthly costs of nearly $12,000.

The company is holding Monday readings at Hallenbeck's General Store in North Hollywood and planning fundraisers for full productions that will be in rented facilities.

Meanwhile, the classics-oriented Antaeus Company is faced with the possible loss of its Vineland Avenue facility, which is owned by company founding artistic director Dakin Matthews.

Matthews, still active in Antaeus but no longer one of its leaders, says he had been willing to support the company at a substantial loss since he purchased the buildings.

But declining income from his career as a character actor in film and television (he cited the effects of reality TV and his age, 63) means that he can no longer afford the gap between his expenses on the property -- as much as $10,000 a month -- and the amount Antaeus pays him in rent, which varies depending on whether a production is up.

He's considering several unsolicited offers for the property. Matthews said he would like to sell to Antaeus, but the company's artistic directors, Jeanie Hackett and John Apicella, say they probably would have to raise $1.3 million, which isn't an immediate possibility.

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