Gayle Anderson was live in Beverly Hills for a preview of the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the center officially opened its doors this month. She shows us some of the historic fresco murals inside by Charles Kassler.
New Annenberg Center- Renovated Beverly Hills Post Office
by Gayle Anderson
KTLA 5 Reporter
The New Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is the first performing arts center built in Beverly Hills.
The new venue contains two elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office and the new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Goldsmith Theater. Within the Post Office, existing spaces have been re-imagined into the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, a theater school for young people (opening in 2014), a café and gift shop.
The new center is holding a Community Day celebration Sunday, October 27, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to celebrate the delivery of the new venue to Beverly Hills and the greater Los Angeles community. The Wallis transforms the Beverly Hills city block, facing Santa Monica Boulevard, between Crescent and Canon Drives, into the first performing arts center to be built in Beverly Hills: a vibrant arts destination and a major cultural and education hub for audiences of every age, with two distinct, elegant buildings: the renovated historic 1934 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office, now the Paula Kent Meehan Historic Building, and a new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Bram Goldsmith Theater.
Together, these two structures embrace the city’s history and future, creating a new artistic and visual landmark, and an entryway into Beverly Hills’ fabled shopping district. Within the treasured Post Office, existing spaces are transformed into the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater. In addition there are a number of outdoor spaces, highlighted by the beautiful Jamie Tisch Sculpture Garden.
The open house will include activities in all of the spaces – and the Bram Goldsmith and Lovelace Studio stages will be filled with fun, family friendly entertainment that will make The Wallis come alive for the public. Small bites will be provided by Monsieur Marcel Beverly Hills. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Underground parking is available at The Wallis’ 450 N. Crescent garage with entrances/exits off of Crescent Drive and South Santa Monica Boulevard (city parking fees apply). For more information about the open house, please click HERE.
The day also includes guided tours, a sneak preview of the theater school, interactive activities, workshops, live entertainment and an opportunity to meet the staff and hear about exciting ways that the public can participate in The Wallis community.
This will also be one of the first times in two decades the general public can re-engage with the historic Beverly Hills Post Office, one of city’s most beloved buildings, and an anchor for the Beverly Hills community.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built in 1933, the historic Beverly Hills Post Office, was constructed as a Work Projects Administration (WPA) project on the site of the former Pacific Electric Railway Station, and designed by Ralph C. Flewelling, who worked in concert with Allison & Allison Architects. The now- beloved Italian Renaissance Revival style complements the adjacent City Hall.
Inside, near the vaulted ceiling, are eight Depression-era fresco murals painted by California artist Charles Kassler. These murals were funded by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Work Projects Administration (WPA) program and are one of the only two remaining sets of WPA frescos in the entire California Federal Building system.
Painted as homage to the WPA program, the six murals on the north and south walls depict laborers and artisans working on WPA projects, collecting their wages and purchasing groceries at an outdoor market with their families. Flanking these vignettes of everyday life are two additional frescos representing the history and future of the postal service, the Pony Express and Airmail.
Inside the new Bram Goldsmith Theater, the design takes its inspiration from the movement of performers. With a state-of-the-art stage and sculptural American Walnut wood interior, the theater’s intimate setting allows for an unprecedented patron experience, with spacious seating, adaptable acoustics, cutting-edge lighting and excellent sight lines.
The interior walls are lined with panels of wood pieces whose size, shape and spacing have been calculated for the best possible balance for music: some are sound reflectors that add clarity and spaciousness, and some are sound transparent, allowing sound to travel through to the top rows of seating, to create a warm reverberation and extended resonance.
An entire theatrical production can be rehearsed and built at The Wallis. The campus includes a central costume shop, an essential behind-the-scenes component to all productions at The Wallis; adjoining the shop is a props room, where skilled craftsmen can create, build, and repair props. On-site original costumes and props can be hand-made by wardrobe and other specialists. The costume shop and props room can also assist future students with learning theater crafts.
Among the other spaces at The Wallis are a dramatic indoor/outdoor lobby that flows into the garden and terraced landscaping, as audience members approach the venue. Patrons will enter the lobby through a grand staircase, or by a series of gently descending steps through the gardens and into the orchestra level. Beautiful glass encases the orchestra lobby that faces west toward the Jamie Tisch Sculpture Garden, the immediate exterior area of the Bram Goldsmith’s orchestra level. The garden is a serene, beautiful oasis decorated with works of art by renowned artists that becomes a gathering place for guests enjoying a pre-show and post-show, and intermission with friends.
The area also features the David Bohnett Founders Room located directly across the lobby. The elegant room is for major donors and VIP guests, pre and post-show meetings and special events.
The former private office of the Beverly Hills Postmaster, one of the most significant historic features of the building, is handsomely appointed with preserved American Walnut paneling. This distinguished and elegant room is well suited for small meetings, VIP gatherings and intimate dinners.
Two additional outdoor spaces are worth noting. The Janine and Peter Lowy Promenade is the elegant walkway that begins in the Jim and Eleanor Randall Grand Hall, leads to the Lovelace Studio Theater, and connects to the Bram Goldsmith Theater. Patrons will take a journey from the historic post office to the contemporary main stage, enjoying views of beautiful gardens as seen through the Promenade Doors along the way.
Located outside the classrooms is the private Wells Family Courtyard for students and faculty. Connected to the historic loading dock of the Post Office, the courtyard offers the perfect respite and gathering place for youth and teachers between classes.
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills as the cornerstone of the golden triangle, The Wallis then officially opens its doors to the public on November 8 and 9 with performances by Martha Graham Dance Company. Following Graham, The Wallis is producing Parfumerie, adapted by E.P. Dowdall, from the Hungarian play Illatszertar by Miklos Laszlo and directed by Mark Brokaw (November 26 – December 22, 2013), performing during the holidays. The play centers on a romance conducted through love letters, which is a perfect homage to the Post Office and to Hollywood having inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail.
From February 23 – March 23, 2014, The Wallis presents the highly acclaimed Kneehigh Theatre production of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter, an international sensation that will have its Los Angeles premiere. The chamber opera A Coffin in Egypt, composed by Ricky Ian Gordon with libretto and direction by Leonard Foglia, is a co-production with Houston Grand Opera and Opera Philadelphia. Based on a Horton Foote play, it will have its West Coast premiere (April 23 – 27, 2014) and stars beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.
The season also includes many other offerings in music, dance, theatre, special exhibitions and family entertainment.
2013-2014 Inaugural Season
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 North Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
A complete list of events can be found HERE.
Season subscription tickets are now available for purchase. To purchase season tickets, click HERE.
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