A Vision Comes To Life
La Mirada TheatreOn September 16, 1977, after years of serving the community as a movie theater and long after its final screening, the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts reopened its doors and a City's vision was born.
La Mirada Theatre was state of the art in 1977 and remains so today due in large part to each city council, responsible for either its construction or continued operation, recognizing the importance of maintaining the highest technical standards while presenting the finest national, international and regional artists through a wide variety of performing arts disciplines.
The accomplishments of the past 35 years have been extraordinary and have exceeded all expectations. More than 3 million patrons have passed through the doors, attending more than 4,000 performances. Shows produced in La Mirada now tour the country - La Mirada Theatre emblazed across their banner head. And, Broadway is no stranger to our production of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby; the list of awards is exhausting and includes Ovation Awards, and Emmy Award and several Tony Award nominations. In 1999, the La Mirada Theatre was honored with the Henry Reining Outstanding Organization Award, an award that is received for accomplishment in significantly improving the quality of life in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
La Mirada Theatre Timeline
Theatre under construction
1975- The City Council of La Mirada approved a proposal to negotiate the purchase of the obsolete movie house and reconstruct it, as a Redevelopment Agency project, into a performing arts theatre.
1976 - The City Council hires Thomas Mitze as Executive Director of the Theatre and appoints residents as its inaugural Board of Directors. Groundbreaking of La Mirada CivicTheatre and reconstruction begins.
1976 - Friends of the La Mirada Theatre, a volunteer organization, was created by the City Council to support and enhance the theatre and its programming.TheFriendsprovide volunteer ushers for performances and raise funds to bestow special gifts on the theatre.
September 16, 1977 - Grand Opening Gala Celebration.
After years of serving the community as a movie house and long after its final screening, La Mirada Theatre reopened its doors and a City’s vision was born. The celebration weekend featured performances by singer Tony Bennett and Les Brown & The Band of Renown and culminated in an Open House, which attracted thousands.
1978 – The first production of the Broadway Series produced by Herb Rogers, The Efffects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds starring Shelly Winters goes straight to Broadway’s Biltmore Theatre after its run at La Mirada Theatre.
Canto Statue '79
1979 – Dedication of Canto '79
The monumental theme sculpture created specifically for the La Mirada Theatre by internationally acclaimed artist Joseph Young. The sculpture is an abstract, three-dimensional statement of music that is symbolic of the activities of the theatre. Twenty-eight feet high with and eight-foot diameter and weighing nearly two tons, Canto '79 sits atop a grassy knoll in front of the theatre and can be seen from multiple perspectives.
Early Successes - Independent regional arts organizations have come and gone over the years with the Whittier-La Mirada Light Opera, La Mirada Playhouse, Cerritos College, La Mirada Junior Programs and the La Mirada Symphony teaming up with the City-funded Broadway series, produced by Herb Rogers, to provide the early spark, which ignited years of exuberance and enjoyment throughout the region. Over the years, many of the players have changed. Most of those responsible for the theatre’s early successes no longer grace the stage…yet the dream is alive and as vivid as ever.
1982 – That’s Singing: A Celebration of American Musical Comedy, a special event featuring stars of the Broadway stage including Ethel Merman, Nell Carter, Debbie Reynolds, Jerry Orbach, Anthony Perkins, Chita Rivera, Barry Bostwick and more, is filmed live at La Mirada Theatre for cable television.
A Conversation with Cary Grant
1985 – A Conversation With Cary Grant: On Film and In Person – Cary Grant makes a rare personal appearance at La Mirada Civic Theatre and thrills the packed house with stories from his life and career.
1987 – 10 Year Anniversary - The Theatre holds a month-long Tenth Anniversary Celebration featuring a special performance by Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, and “A Salute to Broadway,” presented by the La Mirada Symphony and the Whittier-La Mirada Light Opera.
1988 – The City acquires 10,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space, and converts it into a scene shop and rehearsal space for use by the Broadway Series and the La Mirada Playhouse.
1990 – The La Mirada Outlet Mall surrounding the Theatre is demolished.
1991 – The new La Mirada Theatre Center is opened.
1993 – Jeff Brown assumes the position of Executive Director and recruits Tom McCoy and Cathy Rigby to produce the theatre’s professional theatre series.
1994 – McCoy Rigby Entertainment begins its first season at La Mirada Theatre.
1995 – Los Angeles Times calls La Mirada Theatre “one of the best Broadway-style houses in Southern California.”
Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan
1996 – La Mirada Theatre earns an LA Ovation Award for Radio Gals. Best Musical (Larger Theatre). Radio Gals also wins for Best Choreography (Patti Colombo).
1997- Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby becomes the first La Mirada Theatre production to go on a two-year national tour and have an extended run on Broadway.
1998 – La Mirada Theatre undergoes significant renovation to its auditorium, restrooms, and lobby, which includes the addition of an elevator.
1999 – La Mirada Theatre hosts the Los Angeles Theatre League Alliance “Ovation Awards” with Sharon Lawrence and Alfred Molina and special presentations by Annette Bening and Carol Channing.
1999 – La Mirada Theatre is presented the Henry Reining Outstanding Organization Award for a public service organization that contributed significantly to the quality of life in the Los Angeles Area.
National Tours – During this decade, several tours were launched at La Mirada Theatre including Peter Pan, Seussical the Musical both starring Cathy Rigby, Jesus Christ Superstar starring Carl Anderson, Camelot formerly starring Michael York and through 2008, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, and Happy Days, The Musical.
2000 - Phantom Projects Theatre Group becomes a resident group of La Mirada Theatre, producing theatre for a teen audience.
2001- A&E Television Network Premiere of “Peter Pan,” which was filmed at La Mirada Theatre, received 4 Emmy Award Nominations and one Emmy Award for Art Direction (John Iacovelli).
2002 – 25 Year Anniversary - The Theatre celebrates it’s 25th Anniversary with a special event, “A Salute to Hollywood Songwriters,” featuring Jeff Barry, Alan Bergman, Hal David, Lamont Dozier, Arthur Hamilton, Leiber & Stoller, Richard M. Sherman and many more.
2004 - March Madness Special Events and Concert series begins, each year bringing the best of world-class entertainment to La Mirada’s stage.
2005 – La Mirada Theatre Captures 11 Ovation Nominations, Second Highest of any Theatre in greater Los Angeles.
2006 – Second major renovation including carpet, tile, fireplace, south-side entrance canopy and loading dock realignment.
2008 - Brian Kite assumes the position of Producing Artistic Director and expands theatre programming to include Upright Cabaret, which transforms the beautiful lobby into an intimate Cabaret Lounge for performances featuring today’s hottest Broadway stars and National Theatre Live which lights up the huge screen at La Mirada Theatre, reminiscent of its cinema days. The productions are filmed live in London and broadcast around the world to participating venues, giving audiences everywhere a chance to see the best of British theatre.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts 35 anniversary
2011- 2012 – Celebrating the 35th season and looking towards the future with anticipation. The accomplishments of the past 35 years have been extraordinary and have exceeded all expectations. More than 3 million patrons have passed through the doors, attending more than 4,000 performances.
Of course, none of these achievements would have been possible without the generosity and commitment of the citizens of La Mirada, California and the determined leadership necessary to save an outdated movie theater from the wrecking ball and convert it into a palace for the performing arts.