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A treasure trove of eccentricity at A Noise Within

Theater company hosts a garage sale amid move to new home in Pasadena.

August 13, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Justin Brinsfield, 36 of North Hollywood, tries on a jacket and belt during the theater A Noise Within's massive garage sale at the theater's 234 S. Brand Blvd. location in Glendale on Saturday. The theater is moving to Pasadena soon.
Justin Brinsfield, 36 of North Hollywood, tries on a jacket… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

A local theater company used what surely was the city's most unorthodox garage sale to unload two decades worth of costumes and stage props this weekend in anticipation of its move to a new home in Pasadena.

Founded in Glendale in 1992 by husband-and-wife team Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, A Noise Within will stage its debut production later this month in a new 33,000-square-foot playhouse in the center of East Pasadena's arts district at Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue.

“I would say this really is a momentous occasion, it is a real crossroads for us,” Geoff Elliott said of the move. “It is going to allow us to more fully realize the potential of A Noise Within.”

The company has built a reputation for its year-round staging of the classics, as well as its extensive educational programming that connects theater professionals with local students and school teachers.

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The scene Saturday at its soon-to-be former home at Brand Boulevard and Colorado Street was like no garage sale ever before — racks of shoes shadowed tables of faux crocodile handbags, which sat next to heaps of ties, hats, belts and a self-playing piano.

More surprising than the inventory were the hundreds of patrons who traveled from every corner of Southern California to revel in the mishmash like fashionistas in the Vogue sample closet.

“This is crazy, I didn't expect such a line,” said Huntington Park High School teacher Trish Kopaitich as she juggled a half-dozen foam mannequin heads. “It is good, they have some cool stuff.”

Glendale resident Sara Pierce, 15, attended the sale with her godfather, David Fein. The pair are costume enthusiasts, dressing up for themed parties and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. They nabbed a medallion belt – Sara said it reminded her of Jim Morrison, the late rock star – and a Roman helmet, which Sara perched on her head as she exited.

“I think people sometimes like to be boring,” Sara said. “But I don't like to be boring. I like to be eccentric.”

Friends Trance Thompson, 38, and Kevin Cannon, 35, both of Los Angeles, were preparing for a trip to Burning Man, a week-long performance arts extravaganza staged annually in the Nevada desert. The dress code is shiny, dramatic and sexy, they explained as they loaded up on jewelry, capes, sashes and a flamboyant pair of purple silk pants.

“We need to get more theaters to move,” Cannon said.

The garage sale served both to reduce the theater's volume of equipment, costumes and props, and to chip away at the $550,000 the company still needs to raise in order to meet its $13.5 million fundraising goal for its new space, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott said.

The company is expecting a seamless transition to Pasadena, where it already has strong patronage, the Elliots said.

“These are extremely challenging times, but we have had a lot of incredible support from foundations and patrons,” Geoff Elliot said. “We always say that it is really a combination of things, the strength of the mission and the work that we do, that really speak to our community.”

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MEGAN O'NEIL covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by email at megan.oneil@latimes.com.

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