"The crowds look to be made up of people who are going to go HOME TO BED after the show ends, not stay out. In short, it's entertainment for people who want to enjoy the music of their youth with the comforts they've come to appreciate in middle age."
Maybe it's our proximity to Hollywood. Maybe it's the "Real Housewives" idea that suburbs breed drama. Or maybe we just have a lot of attention seekers. Whatever the reason, Claritans want places to perform and to watch others shine on stage. We're in luck because more venues for performances of all types are on the horizon. The City itself will be running a small theater in Newhall, an entrepreneur will try to make a living on live music and a developer will clear what amounts to a small forest to support Disney's productions with new studio space. Prepare to perform.
City Enters Theater Business
If you were asked to name the core duties of government, you probably wouldn't say leasing a local theater and running it for the arts community to prevent the building from becoming a retail shop. But that's what Santa Clarita's City Council recently voted to do. The now-vacant Repertory East Playhouse will be leased for three years at a cost of approximately $170,000, though some costs will likely be recovered by charging for use of the facility. It will be operated and managed by the City as a "multi-use art space," whatever that means.
While Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste was pleased with the move and hoped it would be a step towards acquiring an even larger center for the arts, Mayor Cameron Smyth was less enthusiastic. He called the focus on the theater a "tangent" from other issues. But the involvement doesn't stop there. With some $90,000 in community arts grants approved at the same meeting, many for theatrical productions, Santa Clarita seems to be becoming a patron of the arts more and more. How long the City stays in the theater business, and how well it does, remain to be seen.
Dinner and a Band
By the end of this year, Sterling Venue Ventures is looking to turn the old Red Robin restaurant space at the mall into a music venue for up to 1,100 people. The main draw will be live music and there's going to be a bar, lounge and food as well. In an interview with The Signal, Lance Sterling said his company started its first venue in Agoura Hills, targeting people who didn't want to drive or stand for the whole night to see a concert.
What should Claritans expect? Based on checking out the website for The Rose in Pasadena, one of the company's other establishments, performers are primarily acts that had their heyday a few decades ago, and prices are moderate. To go see Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles, for example, your ticket would be in the $40 to $50 range, plus an option for dinner with entrees running $20 to $40. The crowds look to be made up of people who are going to go home to bed after the show ends, not stay out. In short, it's entertainment for people who want to enjoy the music of their youth with the comforts they've come to appreciate in middle age.
Oaks or Studios?
As might be expected from a community filled with young families, there's a lot of Disneymania in Santa Clarita. But what do we think of Disney when Mickey's holding a chainsaw, ready to hack his way through a bunch of Santa Clarita's heritage oaks? At Disney's Golden Oak Ranch, there is a plan to do just that. A studio is set to be built to support the company's many productions, but there are currently 158 oak trees in the way. Approval to cut them down was recently extended for another year, giving the project developer more time to follow through with the long-standing plans. 16 of the oaks that would be cut down are heritage oaks—the big, old oaks that lend character to landscapes and provide acorns to wildlife.
Even if Santa Claritans wanted to intervene, there's little to be done. Permission comes from the County of Los Angeles, not the City of Santa Clarita, and there's a big financial incentive to support the project. Studios make more jobs and generate more tax revenue than trees. Saplings will be planted in place of the felled oaks, but those who heart SCV know that some of our trees are irreplaceable.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.