In a market overflowing with live theater options from such institutions as the Pasadena Playhouse, Boston Court Theatre and A Noise Within, it can be difficult for a smaller theater to get noticed. But over the last couple of years the Sierra Madre Playhouse has gotten creative in the battle for attention, and this Saturday offers what might be their most unique gambit.
“The Glass Menagerie — Route 66 Event” aims to immerse attendees into the world of the theater’s next play, Tennessee Williams’ classic “The Glass Menagerie,” which opens May 6. There will be three stops at classic locations along Route 66 in the area, with actors from the production enacting scenes in the real-world settings that are surprisingly similar to the imaginary world envisioned by Williams.
The road trip begins at 9:30 am at Tired Iron Works, a specialty garage that restores antique cars to their classic splendor, located at 135 W. Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia.
Housed in a 1920s building that was one of the first Dodge dealerships in the San Gabriel Valley, it will feature actors bringing the words of Williams to life under an elegant chandelier amidst cars that have won prizes at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Newport Beach Concours, in a scene running from 9:40 to 9:50 am.
Attendees will next drive west along Foothill in Monrovia a few blocks to the 1925 Aztec Hotel in Monrovia at 311 W. Foothill Blvd., currently in the process of restoration. A scene will be played at the Mayan Bar and Grill where leaded glass and blue tinted stained glass give the restaurant an appropriately “glassy” atmosphere for another short scene performed from 10:10 to 10:16 a.m. Parking is available in the lot just west of the hotel.
Hop back into their cars, participants will drive south on Myrtle to Huntington Drive, the modern route of Highway 66. Then drive west to the third and final destination, the former Van de Kamp’s Windmill coffee shop (now a Denny’s Restaurant) at the corner of Huntington Drive and Santa Anita Boulevard in Arcadia. The building is a Googie-style wonder and features the only remaining windmill from the iconic Van de Kamp’s franchise. Parking is in the lot behind the coffee shop — entrance from Santa Anita. The scene is from 10:30 to 10:40 a.m. outside on the grassy patch just east of the coffee shop.
All who complete the three stops will get a bumper sticker that reads “ROADTRIP! Drama on Route 66 with the Sierra Madre Playhouse.” Five dollar off ticket price coupons will also be handed out at each stop, good for pre-opening purchases of up to four tickets per coupon.
“We did have a problem that sometimes people didn’t know where the playhouse is and what we’re about, so we came up with ideas where we would do scenes or songs from the plays and are calling it ‘Drama in Unexpected Places,’” says Diane Siegel, curator of exhibits and special programs for the playhouse.
“It’s really to get people to know where we are and what we do. We just finished our field trip series, theater for young audiences, with ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and found that schools are really willing to come to us within a 25-mile radius,” continues Siegel. “So we decided to expand our radius of where we reach out to for adults as well. This goes to Arcadia and Monrovia, and might go even farther afield in the future.”