By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The Alex Theatre on Brand Boulevard in Glendale officially marked the onset of its expansion project on Tuesday with a long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony. The event was hosted by Glendale Arts, the nonprofit organization charged with managing the theatre, and featured members of the Glendale City Council, city officials and members of the business community.
Glendale Arts CEO Elissa Glickman and Glendale Arts Chairman Harry Hull discussed the importance of overcoming the loss of redevelopment funds required to move forward with the project. Hull cited the tendency of other projects to fall through when those funds were no longer available.
“[This] symbolically means more than the expansion alone,” said Hull to the crowd that gathered in the theatre’s courtyard. “It reinforces the city’s commitment to this venue and arts in the city.”
The theatre has been able to overcome economic hardship in recent years to become a profitable entertainment venue in the downtown of a growing city.
When the renovations are finished, the theatre is expected to attract a wider range of programming.
“It’ll be in the background, but it will allow us to bring bigger and better events,” explained Hull. “Good art marketed well is good for business and good for the community.
“It’s more than a 20-foot hole,” he continued. “It’s the future of the Alex.”
The improvements may not be obvious to theatre patrons when they visit the Alex Theatre after the completion of the renovations. The bulk of the physical changes will occur backstage and will expand the theatre’s ability to present bigger and more modern productions, host larger casts and otherwise make the Alex a more inviting venue.
Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver also spoke at the ceremony offering personal memories that emphasized the theatre’s long history in the area. He described visiting the theatre in the 1940s to watch cartoon screenings as well as attending a showing of the Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe classic “River of No Return” with his late father in the 1950s.
“[I’m] happy we found a way to make it happen,” Mayor
Weaver (below right) said of the renovations. “It’s going to be a great day when it’s open.”
Although the project faced a difficult road in securing funding, Hull was confident in the theatre’s ability to grow financially and develop further as a venue.
“We weren’t sure we were going to get here,” said Hull. “This is going to allow us to attract much better entertainment. We were working with an antiquated system that was forcing us to turn down bookings.”
The 6,600 square foot expansion will add to the theatre’s backstage space, dressing room capacity, and loading capabilities. The Alex Theatre will remain closed through Oct. 31 when it will reopen for performances during the holiday season. Construction is expected to be completed early in 2014.