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Looking back

A Noise Within officials remember the good and trying times of producing classical repertory theater.

June 03, 2011|By Joyce Rudolph,
  • Len Lesser, foreground, and Geoff Elliott in Arthur Miller's "The Price" initially presented during the 2003-04 season, then reprised during each of the three seasons following. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)
Len Lesser, foreground, and Geoff Elliott in Arthur Miller's…

A Noise Within produces its last performance today at the former Glendale Masonic Temple building on South Brand Boulevard. As its final act, the theater company will produce its Summer With Shakespeare program for youngsters from June 27 to July 26 before moving to the new state-of-the art theater complex in Pasadena in October.

The husband and wife co-founders/co-artistic directors, Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, are proud that for 19 seasons, the company has remained the only year-round classical repertory company in Southern California, and one of only a handful in the entire country dedicated solely to producing classical dramatic literature in the repertory tradition of rotating productions with a resident company of professional artists.

When they came to the area to realize their dream of bringing classical dramatic theater to Southern California, the Elliots were offered space in a building on South Brand Boulevard, and that was how it all began.


“We will forever be indebted to the De Pietro family, owners of the building, a former Masonic temple, for their incredible generosity in providing us with a home for the classics from the company’s inception,” Geoff Ellliot said.

Since the beginning, the company has presented more than 120 plays from the classics of world literature. Each season it produced a minimum of six classic plays from authors such as Shakespeare, Moliere, Miller, Calderon de la Barca, Ibsen, O’Neill and Shaw. Over the years, it has received more than two dozen Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, as well as numerous LA Weekly and Backstage Garland awards.

While receiving accolades for its productions, the company has continued to deal with a 1920s theater that fell short in the area of comfort for its patrons from the beginning, said Michael Sholer, the longest serving member on the board of directors.

Sholer saw the company’s first production, “Hamlet,” before joining the board during the company’s second season. He said he wondered, as he sat in the audience, if anyone would come to the theater, and if anyone would know it was there. The space was spare and sparse, he said, just the bare bones.

“There was no heating in the early days, or air-conditioning,” he said. “It was so cold in that room when the ghost of Hamlet’s father walked by, the circulating of the cold air convinced you that you were on a turret of the castle walls in Denmark.”

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