Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Ahmanson Theatre Seats "Next to Normal" - The Venue

Back in the summer of 1990 it was here at the Ahmanson Theatre where I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" for the first time. Fourteen years later I would experience Baz Luhrman's "La Boheme" at this same venue. Today it would be viewing the dramatic musical "Next to Normal" on its North American Tour. See the next post for my review of the show.

As a modern built theatre, the Ahmanson is indeed quite plain and unstriking compared to the playhouses of the past such as those in London or New York. But it is modern, comfortable, spacious and appropriate to house both plays and musicals. After being renovated in 1995, the seating capacity can be reconfigured from 1,600 to 2,100 on three levels to host a variety of productions.

The plaza fronting the theatre makes it the perfect place to stretch during intermission. A concession stand is also set up outside.

The Ahmanson Theatre has been the tryout theatre and then the co-producer for several shows that eventually reached Broadway, most recently "9 to 5: The Musical" based on the Dolly Parton film of the same name. Earlier this fall the theatre hosted the premiere of the musical adaptation of the Steve Martin film "Leap of Faith." There is no word yet if it is to transfer to Broadway. "The Phantom of the Opera" holds the longest run at the Ahmanson playing from 1989 to 1993.

Auditorium (image: L.A. Music Center)
Construction of the Ahmanson was completed in 1967 and built with the generosity of its namesake, philanthropist Robert H. Ahmanson. The theatre posters within the theatre shows the remarkable past and diverse and popular productions it has hosted. The theatre is one of four venues at the Los Angeles Music Center. More info at


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