Get Your Kicks

Get Your Kicks

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.” 

Get Your Kicks

Get Your Kicks

There are plenty of tours in the Los Angeles area that spotlight star homes, movie studios and city landmarks. But the folks at Esotouric, led by founders Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, have been offering far more unique looks at life in LA County for the past decade, including their “Pasadena Confidential” bus tour through the Crown City’s most notorious crime and accident scenes.

Saturday, they’ll bring one of their more popular events, the “Route 66 Road Trip: Roadside Architecture, Citrus, Drive-Ins & Cemeteries” tour, back to life after 18 months off. Offering a fun way to kick off Valentine’s Day for curious couples, as well as anyone who wants to learn about classic locations from a unique perspective, the tour is the closest thing to a day with the late great Huell Howser that California travel buffs will ever have.

“The Aztec Hotel in Monrovia closed for renovation, so we put the tour off hoping to bring it back when it reopened, but the demand is so big overall that we can’t wait anymore,” says Schave. “This is a tour about Route 66, but we start with Fairmont Cemetery, a mid-19th-century cemetery long before Route 66 was invented. People were still coming across the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles back then, and it was the continuation of the Western dream.”

The four-hour tour hits all manner of landmarks along the way from Fairmont Cemetery, exploring the architecture of the Azusa Foothill Drive-In, a famous McDonald’s, and, on a jaunt through Glendora en route to Duarte, numerous pre-World War II war roadside structures. Another highlight is the Rancho Inn, the last remaining pre-war motor hotel on Route 66 in Duarte, in addition to bungalows, Victorian houses and an old gas station in Monrovia.

“The goal of the tour is to give a sense of the rise and fall of Route 66 as a commercial venture,” says Schave. “In between the gems that remain we’re going to explain the basic public policy behind the demolition of Route 66 as we know it and the creation of these ugly business parks. The goal though is to sweep you away to when it was perfect.”

Esotouric presents its “Route 66 Road Trip: Roadside Architecture, Citrus, Drive-Ins & Cemeteries” tour, departing at 11:30 a.m. sharp Saturday from Daily Dose, 1820 Industrial St., Los Angeles, and returning at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $58 and can be ordered prior to Saturday at esotouric.com. Call (213) 915-8687 if ordering tickets after 8 a.m. Saturday. 

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