The Broad Stage, a new state-of-the-art performance venue, opened its doors to the community last Sunday for tours of its facilities.
This new theater, designed by Santa Monica architect Renzo Zecchetto, permits eye contact with the performers from any of its 499 seats. Its stage is large enough to hold a full orchestra, and the venue also contains an orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 45 musicians.
Also part of the Santa Monica Performing Arts Center is The Edye Second Space, a 99-seat rehearsal hall/black box theater with technical gallery that was not open to the community last Sunday. Both the Stage and the Second Space are named for Eli and Edythe Broad, who gave $10 million earlier this year to create an endowment for performing arts and arts education at the new complex.
The theater’s spokesperson, Vanessa Butler, explained that close attention was paid in constructing the theater to sustainability. Key environmentally conscious components are The Broad Stage’s tall lobby that allows the utilization of ocean breezes for ventilation and the use of air conditioning under the Stage’s seats that results in a 30 percent electricity saving when cooling down the theater.
Since the new complex is part of Santa Monica College, SMC will have access to The Broad Stage for a minimum of 45 days per year for concerts, rehearsals, and classes. The College’s Drama Department won’t be utilizing the stage for performances because it has its own theater on the College’s main campus.
At press time, attempts to reach the Arts Center’s Artistic Director, Dale Franzen, were unsuccessful. However, at a press conference in October of 2007 Franzen stated “Our purpose is to grow into a global theater, as inspired and dynamic as the culturally diverse and cosmopolitan city we inhabit.” She then added that the vision for the Performing Arts Center is that it becomes “a laboratory of creative spontaneity, where performing artists can nurture new work and collaborate in all performance disciplines and where audiences of all ages and backgrounds are welcomed into a more intimate experience of the performing arts.”
During the planning stages for the project, the surrounding community expressed concerns that the center could negatively impact their neighborhood with additional traffic and parking problems, noise, and litter. Butler mentioned that the traffic issues were resolved because the entrance and exit to the center’s parking lot is on Santa Monica Boulevard. She also stressed that no complaints have been received from the neighbors recently.
An inaugural gala will be held on September 20 that will feature Broadway singer Barbara Cook, and opening night for the Stage will be on October 11. Tickets for the Stage’s first season will range in price from $29 to $125. The box office will open on September 2 and its phone number will be 310.434.3200. Until then, tickets for creating your own package of performances can be purchased at The Broad Stage website, thebroadstage.com.