By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Concluding a long period of uncertainty, the Alex Theatre has been approved for major renovations and expansion. The city finalized funding for the construction project, awarding the theatre $5,268,000.
The expansion project will add approximately 6,600 square feet to the Alex. Funding for the renovation has been in a state of uncertainty since the dissolution of redevelopment agencies across the state.
According to a quarterly report filed by Glendale Arts with the City of Glendale, the Alex Theatre showed positive revenue growth and increased its days of activity to 37, from 24 in the same quarter last year. Glendale Arts, which manages the theatre, has taken steps to keep the venue financially viable.
“It’s all about ensuring that we are competitive,” said Glendale Arts CEO Elissa Glickman. “It is no longer enough to accommodate shows in a tent in the back parking lot when you are competing in the Los Angeles market.”
Part of the renovation will be an investment in cosmetic improvements, such as painting of the underbelly of the marquee and regularly scheduled maintenance. The theatre will also ultimately unveil a donor wall.
“What we think we can attract with these changes are things that the community is interested in,” said Glickman. “You’ll see some more musical theatre and it will allow us to book some bigger productions.”
The project will ensure that the theatre will remain a suitable venue for more contemporary acts that often involve larger and more complicated set design.
The theatre has already seen some incremental modernization in recent years with the installation of fully digital stereo sound and improvements in lighting. The remaining changes will keep in line with original restoration plans for the Alex.
“We simply couldn’t afford to do it in the early ’90s when we first decided the Alex needed a renovation,” said Glickman. “We now can finally fulfill the ultimate destiny that has been long planned for the theatre.”
Glendale’s chief assistant director of Community Development Phil Lanzafame, who served as the city liaison to the Glendale Arts board, stressed the importance of maintaining the venue as part of the city’s developing cultural identity.
“If the Alex Theatre is going to stay relevant, it too is going to need to grow to accommodate the changing marketplace,” said Lanzafame. “We have a great environment now and it would be a shame to lose the Alex when we have an environment that people want to be in and enjoy this type of entertainment.”
Initial construction is scheduled to take place from July 1 to Nov. 1 this year. The theatre will then reopen during the busy holiday months of November and December before closing again for three to four weeks at the end of the year. Construction will continue around the venue’s 2014 calendar until an expected completion date at some point in May.