New York may have Broadway, but southern California is the epicenter of entertainment and has its own fair share of cultural events, in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. From the LA Opera in downtown to performing arts centers in the suburbs, check out where the locals go to see everything.
The Music Center
The Music Center in downtown LA is the biggest and best-known producer for cultural events in Los Angeles. It is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, and other venues that put on some of the biggest and most talked-about productions in the city—including the LA Opera’s renowned features. Stepping into the Dorothy Chandler is like taking a step back in time to when people routinely got dressed up for a night at the theater. Sparkling chandeliers dangle from the lobby’s ceiling, and once you’re inside, plush rows of red seats set the mood for the main event.
The historic Pasadena Playhouse is located in the theater district of Pasadena within walking distance from many nearby hotels and restaurants. It’s been a major attraction in the city since opening in 1917. The small craftsman-style venue attracts smaller productions and one-man acts. Balcony seats give you a glimpse of the audience as it reacts to seeing recognizable faces of the small and big screens, and also allows you a closer glimpse of the historic building’s stunning carved ceilings and the ornate scrolled artwork that attracts architecture lovers as much as theater fans.
Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza may not be well-known outside of local circles, but when Angelenos get tired of fighting traffic over the hill, it’s where they check out everything from major events like concerts to smaller-scaled versions of big Broadway hits. The modern building that also houses the city council has several stages and puts on seasonal productions of The Nutcracker. Inside the block-shaped behemoth, guests are treated to slate-colored walls and occasional artistic installations as they anticipate shows that range from local attractions to world-famous legendary performers. It’s the ‘burbs, so pre-show, indulge like a local at the next-door collection of upscale chain restaurants in the well-designed Lakes shopping center.
The Geffen Playhouse
The Geffen, located across from the UCLA campus in Westwood, attracts major stars to its small stage. Although the surrounding area is crowded, the high-quality specialized selection of the productions has made The Geffen a mainstay for events in Los Angeles. Spend the intermission of your show mingling on the stone patio, admiring the twinkling lights that decorate the trees in the courtyard year-round while you enjoy a treat from the vendors in the lobby.
A Noise Within
Since moving from Glendale to Pasadena a few years back, A Noise Within has become one of the most beloved venues for events in Los Angeles. This small theater specializes in classic productions, including the works of Shakespeare and Shaw, and has a round stage in the center of the audience, allowing for better views. Formerly known as the Stuart Pharmaceutical Building, the historic building that houses the theater company is in the mid-century modern style, and much of the charm lies in the outdoor courtyard and fountain—though staging transforms the minimalist theater inside according to the production, from Macbeth‘s moors to Antigone‘s ancient Greece.