- 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. Laguna Beach, CA
The Laguna Playhouse was launched on October 22, 1920 by dedicated drama devotees to serve Laguna Beach and the region, and our many friends and visitors each year. Play readings and performances were initially presented in private homes and storefronts. The group’s first real home, The Playhouse, was built in 1924 on Ocean Avenue in downtown Laguna Beach.
During the Great Depression, the theatre was sold to the City, which then leased it back to the company. During World War II, The Playhouse offered entertainment for the troops and hosted USO dances and other activities.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, The Laguna Playhouse continued to present a variety of staged productions and, as the company’s ambitions grew, the need for a larger, better-equipped venue became apparent.
After the war, and through the 1950s and 1960s, The Laguna Playhouse continued to present a variety of productions, and even the first season of a then-fledgling troupe called South Coast Repertory Theatre. As the company’s ambitions grew, the need for a larger, better-equipped venue became increasingly apparent.
In 1969, the beautiful Moulton Theatre was built with private funds on city-owned land along Laguna Canyon Road. As the community developed in step with the rapid growth of Orange County, the company produced work of increasing quality, and its audience expanded in direct response.
In 1996, The Playhouse formalized an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association and became a professional nonprofit theatre. In the sixteen seasons since, the Laguna Playhouse’s reputation as a regional powerhouse has grown as it has become recognized on the national theatre scene for the quality of its work.
Today, under the guidance of Executive Director Karen Wood and with Artistic Director Ann Wareham, more than 100,000 theatre patrons attend performances at The Playhouse each season, with countless others participating in its educational and community programming. The award-winning Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre is widely recognized for its outstanding youth education programs, and has been named “Outstanding Arts Education Entity” by Arts Orange County and for its “Outstanding Contribution to Education” by the Orange County Department of Education. Additionally the Laguna Playhouse is delighted to welcome Community Collaborators such as Ca Dance and the Laguna Dance Festival, Laguna Beach Live, and the Laguna Community Band as well as offering special engagements such as comedian Rita Rudner, performance artist Hershey Felder and author Dean Koontz.
“90 years since its inception” states Chairman of the Board Henry Mayhew, “the Laguna Playhouse provides enriching theatre, while enhancing our community’s reputation as one of the country’s most appealing tourist destinations and artistic communities. The Playhouse’s artistic excellence and audience popularity have helped make it one of Southern California’s most important regional nonprofit theatres.” “Add to that,” offers Karen Wood, Executive Director, “there is an invigorating connection between what is happening on the stage, and the spirit of the community and our many visitors which creates a resonance felt up and down the coast of Southern California; we’re united in cultural celebration! ”
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