Final curtain for the Pasadena Playhouse -- for awhile, at least
Sunday marked not only the last performance of "Camelot," the theater's current show, but the closing of the historic theater as its leaders search for a way out of its money woes.
"The beautiful theater has been filled with the art of theater," Sheldon Epps, the theater's artistic director, told the audience. "I'm grateful to all of you for staying with us."
It was announced in late January that the theater would halt productions on its main stage because of financial difficulties. The 90-year-old landmark is strapped for cash and faces more than $500,000 in immediate bills, as well as payments on more than $1.5 million in bank loans and other debts.
"Tonight, in a quasi-ceremony we are closing this theater," said Stephen Eich, the theater's executive director. "We know not for how long, but we are absolutely optimistic that it will, in fact, reopen."
That seemed to be the sentiment among those in attendance Sunday night. Whispers of "this just can't be the end" and "it's an institution...it will pull through" filtered through the space.
"It's a little bump in the road," said Lenore Almanzar, 75, a theater house manager and volunteer with Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse. "We'll pull through this. We just need to wipe the slate clean."
Almanzar, a former student, has strolled through the theater's courtyard thousands of times since she first walked through the doors at 17. She's seen it struggle and triumph and said she had no doubt the theater would persevere.
'We've been through a lot together," she said. "The journey isn't over."
Before the final bow, Epps said, "Think of this not as a grand finale, but as an intermission...we will come back again and begin the next act."
Top photo: Pasadena Playhouse Board Chair Michele Dedeaux Engemann, Executive Director Stephen Eich and Artistic Director Sheldon Epps surrounded by the staff, board and members of Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse for the final bow. Credit: Craig Schwartz
Bottom photo: Epps addressing the audience. Credit: Yvonne Villarreal/Los Angeles Times