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With Regional Theatre Tony win, Pasadena Playhouse is undoubtedly out of the woods

BY CHARLES MCNULTY THEATER CRITIC  MAY 23, 2023 9 AM PT

Pasadena Playhouse will receive the 2023 Regional Theatre Tony Award, becoming only the second Los Angeles institution to earn the honor and continuing its triumphant streak after years of turbulence.

The prize, which includes a $25,000 grant sponsored by City National Bank, will be presented at the 76th Tony Awards on June 11 in New York.




The Tony Awards Administration Committee made the announcement, on the recommendation of the American Theatre Critics Assn., on Tuesday, a week after the Writers Guild of America agreed to not picket the event, allowing the televised broadcast to proceed in a revised form.

The Mark Taper Forum, in 1977, was the first L.A. theater to receive the Regional Theatre Tony. Other Southern California recipients include the Old Globe in 1984, South Coast Repertory in 1988 and La Jolla Playhouse in 1993.

The award marks an astonishing turnaround for Pasadena Playhouse, which was on the verge of shutting down in 2010, when it laid off most of its staff, canceled the remainder of its season and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Rescued by the generosity of donors, the theater was back on shaky ground when producing artistic director Danny Feldman was appointed to succeed long-term artistic director Sheldon Epps in 2016.


The story of the Playhouse, Feldman said, is one of “resiliency” and “scrappiness.” Survival has been touch-and-go, but now the theater that Brown and the Pasadena Playhouse community built, that Houk (along with Rothman and Dietz) brought back from the dead, Epps modernized and Feldman turned into Los Angeles’ finest, is a Tony winner.

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