The official State Theater of California, Pasadena Playhouse is one of the oldest professionally operated theaters in the state. It is dedicated to the development and presentation of a culturally diverse variety of theatrical productions at the highest level of artistry.
Founded in 1917 by visionary Gilmor Brown, the theater has been housed in its present building since 1924. During its first four decades, it was the first American theater to present all 37 of Shakespeare's plays, apart from producing hundreds of plays and presenting nearly 500 world premieres.
In 1928, Brown opened the College of Theatre Arts, which was acknowledged as “Hollywood’s talent factory” during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
A countless number of celebrated playwrights, directors, and actors, such as Dustin Hoffman, Eleanor Parker, and Gene Hackman, were discovered as students from this small playhouse.
In 1937, the playhouse was designated as the official State Theater of California by unanimous vote of the State Legislature. Later, a TV studio was opened at the Playhouse to train directors, actors, writers, and technicians.
The glory days of the theater began to fade when Brown died, in 1960. It was closed in 1969.
The City of Pasadena, with a grant from the Economic Development Agency, began restoration works, which led to the grand reopening of the theater in 1986. Since then, it has been a leader in the theater community.
The theater is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Presently, the 680-seat theater hosts a year-round season of six plays, with more than 300 performances given annually.