The Pasadena Playhouse Blog

Dia De Los Muertos Celebration on El Molino Ave. this Saturday!


Sugar Skulls, Folklorico Dancers, and Art – Oh My!

This Saturday, Oct. 22,  El Molino Avenue will transform into a festive Dia De Los Muertos evening of fun that’s both free and family-friendly! After spending the morning at The Friends of The Pasadena Playhouse Craft Bazaar from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., join us all along El Molino Ave. – around the courtyard, in our Carrie Hamilton Theatre, and in Playhouse Plaza – to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos!

In partnership with our neighbors at Zona Rosa Caffe, we are honored and thrilled to host the 22nd Annual Dia De Los Muertos Art Exhibition and Celebration. Live Music, a Calavera Art Exhibit, Folklorico Dancers, and Puppet shows will fill the Avenue from 3 – 10 p.m.!

SEE BELOW for a list of must-see events and activities:

-Folklorico Dancers will perform at Playhouse Plaza

-Pasadena City College Graphic students will offer Calavera screen printing

-Bob Baker Marionettes will perform in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse, located up the stairs from our Courtyard

-Candle-Makers from L.A.’s iconic Olvera Street will be sharing their traditional craft

-Peruse the Day of The Dead Altars that will be built on The Playhouse’s Engemann Courtyard

-Indulge in coffee and delicious eats from Zona Rosa Coffee, TLT Foods and redwhite+bluezz.


99th Rose Queen Announcement & Coronation Ceremony Comes to The Playhouse this Thursday!


2017 Royal Court

A Queen will be crowned this Thursday, October 20 on The Playhouse Mainstage as the seven members of the 2017 Royal Court will make their final presentations before a live audience and a panel of judges. Members of the Royal Court will receive the prestigious opportunity to reign over the Annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, as well as take on civic responsibilities, participating in over 100 public and media events throughout the course of the year.

Around 1,000 Royal Court hopefuls from various Pasadena-area schools interviewed for the opportunity to be selected as the Rose Queen. Now, Finalists and Rose Court Princesses Audrey Mariam Cameron, Victoria Cecilia Castellanos, Maya Kawaguchi Khan, Shannon Tracy Larsuel, Autumn Marie Lundy, Natalie Rose Petrosian, and Lauren Emiko Powers will walk the red carpet  for the Announcement and Coronation of the 99th Rose Queen and Presentation of the Royal Court.

General Admission tickets are still available. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS>>

The Rose Queen and Royal Court has been a longstanding Pasadena tradition since 1905. This year marks the 99th Rose Queen!

SEE BELOW for more Fun Facts about The Tournament of Roses:

Did you know… 

-Inspired by best-selling book Ben-Hur, the first chariot races were staged at Tournament Park in 1904. These Chariot races continued until 1915, when the wildly popular event became too expensive and far too dangerous to produce.

-1929: Isabella Coleman invents the innovative float decorating technique of gluing flowers on floats for the very first time.

-In 1939, The Rose Parade celebrated its 50th anniversary. Grand Marshal Shirley Temple, the youngest GM in history, presided over the parade.

-Richard and Pat Nixon enjoyed their first date at the Duke vs. USC Rose Bowl Game in 1939.

-The Rose Bowl Game became the first to be broadcast nationally in color in 1962.

-Prolific Composer/Conductor John Williams lead the parade as Grand Marshal, celebrating the universal language of music with the theme Music Music Music.

Want more Fun Facts on the Tournament of Roses CLICK HERE>>




Meet THE FANTASTICKS Cast Member, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez!


1. How has your experience been at The Playhouse so far? 

It’s been absolutely spectacular! I’ve always wanted to perform at The Pasadena Playhouse. I get to play a dream role in a timeless and classic show like The Fantasticks. It’s also a legendary theatre with an extraordinary track record of putting out top-notch theatre and talent. I think in addition to being blessed with such wonderful cast-mates, a stellar production and creative staff, I can’t ignore the beautiful individuals behind the scenes. There is a love and passion one feels the minute they step through the doors. From the company management, to The Friends of The Playhouse and the administrative staff. I’ve been made to feel right at home from the start.

2. What are the pros and cons of stage acting compared to voice acting and film/TV acting?

Well, my origins are in theatre and musical theatre. From summer stock to Broadway. So for me, it’s kind of like riding a bike in some respect. I think I’ll always have a “first love” sentiment toward theatre. It was where I found my love and passion for acting. And I’m reminded of why I adore it so much nightly with The Fantasticks. Theatre is LIVE, which makes it alive and visceral for an audience. There’s a special connection that occurs between an actor, his fellow actors and the audience with live theatre that you may not always see with TV and film projects. Actors “feed” off the energy of the audience just as much as the audience feeds off the emotion and storytelling of the actors. That’s the unique connection that makes theatre so inspiring, entertaining and heartfelt. That said, I LOVE being in front of a camera as well. That connection tends to reveal itself through the actor’s eyes. And TV and film can be extremely powerful in conveying its stories though an actor’s eyes.

3. We found out you consider yourself a cinephile. What is your favorite film? 

Well, if I MUST pick ONE favorite, I’d have to say Star Wars. It’s a film I can never get tired of watching over and over again and I always manage to find something magical and unique about it. Yep, I’m a certified Star Wars nerd, haha!

4. What is your go-to cooking recipe? 

Oh, I’d have to say I make a pretty mean Grilled Miso Salmon with garlic mashed potatoes. My wife and daughter tend to “light up” when I suggest it for dinner. Knowing they love and appreciate it makes my heart soar!

5. Why should people come see The Fantasticks

Well, aside from it being a classic American musical, it is a timeless and poignant piece of theatre. It’s universal themes of love, love lost, love regained is something most of us can appreciate and relate to. One can find their own truth and experience with love within its story. Another reason I believe people should come see this particular version of The Fantasticks is because of the unique perspective of our director, Seema Sueko. From the beginning, she wanted us to explore not why we love or what love is but in fact HOW to love. One of the lines in “Try To Remember” states, “Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.” We can take that to mean that our love is tested or even stripped away from us before we can appreciate, experience and enjoy that love again. But we also live in very turbulent times, (not unlike the world of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt in the 50s and 60s) in an election year with a very divided country. We turn on the news only to see images and stories of hatred, animosity and divisiveness. I, for one, would not mind “escaping” to the theatre for a couple of hours and witness love…in all its glory.

Meet THE FANTASTICKS Cast Member, Alyse Rockett


1. How has your experience been at The Playhouse so far? 

My experience at The Playhouse has been amazing! I get to play and explore with the most incredible individuals everyday in such a historical and beautiful theatre. It’s a dream.

2. What’s your favorite style of dance? 

I don’t have a favorite particular style of dance. I’m in love with so many. Each style holds something so beautiful.

 3. What’s your favorite play? 

A favorite of mine is A Raisin in the Sun.

 4. What’s your favorite musical? 

West Side Story. It’s timeless and the dancing is absolutely spectacular.

 5. Why should people come to see The Fantasticks at The Pasadena Playhouse? 

The story. A person of any age, ethnicity, or background can come and relate to The Fantasticks. We can all find a common ground inside the theme of this play: love and what love truly is. It’s absolutely amazing.

Fantasticks Meet and Greet -August 16, 2016



How has your experience been at The Playhouse? 

The Pasadena Playhouse is a classic old world, naturally acoustic theatre. This makes musical performance, in particular, a real joy. Horowitz once said (in his glorious Russian accent) “They can pay me million dollars. If acoustic no good, I don’t play.” Many theaters throughout the country are contracted (certainly as of the 1970s) to support electronically-enhanced sound. This makes for a lousy musical experience. To be able to have a piano resonate, with the sound coming back to you – and the tiniest of pianissimos fill the hall warmly – this is a GREAT experience. So when asked about my Pasadena Playhouse experience, this is first to mind along with the wonderful audience that is so engaged and attentive – and then show their appreciation at the end in such a wonderful and warm way.

We read in your George Gershwin Alone Production Diary that you were one of four interviewers at the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz in Poland. Can you briefly describe that experience? 

I wish I could describe this briefly, but I can’t. There is nothing brief or pat about this experience.  However, it is on-line in complete form here.

You’ll be performing your production Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in MAESTRO at The Wallis in Beverly Hills from Aug. 10-28. Tell us a little about this production. 

This production appeared at The Playhouse in 2012 as well. I created it in 2010 and it has played throughout the country over these past six years. It is exciting to be able to step into the skin of such a great artist-musician who was an equally complicated man. The music ranges from Beethoven to West Side Story – and everything in between, and the stories are human. Come and see – it’s a wild look into the life of one of America’s greats.

What’s your favorite play?  Your favorite musical?

I have far too many…that’s the problem with loving theatre. But I tend to lean toward what we now call classics – not necessarily and only Shakespeare – but anything and everything that tells a good story. As far as musicals are concerned, I am consistently amazed at the construction of Fiddler on the Roof in terms of a piece of a musical theatre. But I do love Boheme - the factors that contribute are the great music that supports the humanity of the storytelling and the characters.

Why should people come to see Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin?

A great story – and really, really GREAT music.


Pokémon play around The Playhouse

Meet HAM star, Sam Harris!


1. How has your experience been working at The Playhouse?

I love The Pasadena Playhouse. I think the first time I ever performed here, I was about 24 years old, and I fell in love with it then. So I love the history of it, I love the look of it—it reminds me of a New York house.

One of the things that’s great about working at The Pasadena Playhouse is the people. I mean really, that makes or breaks any place that you play, and this is the most extraordinary staff and crew I know—Sheldon Epps, who’s brilliant, I know Patty Onagan who does the publicity, I know Joe Witt. It’s just a great group of top-notch people, and so it’s a pleasure to work here.

2. How has your start on “Star Search” opened doors for you and your show business journey?

You know, the thing about that kind of television exposure, we talk about this in the show a little bit, is that in the days of “Star Search,” was pre-“American Idol,” pre-“The Voice,” pre-“America’s Got Talent,” pre-all that stuff—there weren’t all these cable outlets. So it was less channels, and larger audiences. So the last numbers that these shows like “The Voice” are getting, like 25 million people for their finales, are what we had every week. So it was a tremendous amount of exposure—which is life-changing. You can’t buy that kind of platform. So it was for me. I was a kid, I was 24 years old; I went from total obscurity to touring and making records and doing tons of television and going all over the world—different music festivals and making albums. So it was a huge change and a huge launch.

And then my career went to doing Broadway, and more touring, and touring Broadway shows, and then I’ve directed, became an author, and now the book has become a play. I do believe because I was so driven and ambitious, and loved to do so many things, if it hadn’t been “Star Search,” I do believe it would have come a different way, perhaps through New York. But, man oh man, it was a great way to kick it off.

3. How has fatherhood impacted you and your career?

Becoming a dad is the most important thing I’ve ever done. It’s the most important experience I’ve ever had. It has given me a perspective that I didn’t have. I’ve always been a very passionate person, but I don’t think until I had a child, like as much as I thought I had loved, I didn’t know what love was—the depth of it—until I had a kid. It’s beyond. Like the first minute you see them you don’t even know this child yet and it’s already like I WOULD GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOU. It is so large. It’s definitely affected my work, it’s affected my person certainly—about being my best person. But it’s also affected my art and my work. I used to have anxiety about working, I mean I still get very nervous, but I used to have anxiety about working. And somehow when a child is your priority, the work becomes what you do rather than what you are. My value is as a husband and as a father, and the work has gotten better because of that.

4. Can you tell us about the time Oprah called you after Sept. 11 to come on her show to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”?

I was living in New York, and I moved from New York to Los Angeles on Sept. 10. The next day the world fell apart. And I was in an empty house, the furniture hadn’t arrived and wouldn’t arrive for some time because of everything that had happened after. I felt so alone and helpless like I had abandoned my house on fire. My friends, my life were there; I lived in New York for a long time. And I couldn’t find a community for myself yet, I was just really off the plane. And about four or five days later I got this call from Oprah Winfrey saying she was doing a show called, “Music to Heal Our Hearts.” She felt it was time that we grieve together and move on together. So, of course I said yes. And then I got on the first plane that I hadn’t been on since, which was really scary. But then everything kind of turned into a huge healing experience, the way we rehearsed, with her and her baseball cap and sweatpants saying, “Do you know this song? Do you know that song? Let’s try putting this thing together.” Todd was there, he was amazing. We were going to dinner at her house the night before for this sort of communal thing. It was me and several other Gospel singers, I was the only white boy—which was a thrill! But she trusted me to sing this sort of Gospel-ish music.

Anyway, so the actual experience was actually difficult to perform. It was so emotional and so moving, like I didn’t know if I was going to quite get through it. First I did a song called “Precious Lord,” which is a song that Oprah wanted, it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite song. So she was like, “Would you like to look at the song?” and I said, “Sure.”… And this song, *sings* “Precious Looord, Take my hand, Lead me On, Please help me stand. I’m so tired, I’m so weak, I’m so worn.”

So it was about this grief and then it went into “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which is you know, from Carousel, and we did it in this 6/8 Gospel feeling—never walk alone! And it was very healing for me, and then Oprah asked if I wanted to fly back on a private plane with her to Los Angeles. She said, “Do you want to come with me?” And I said, “You guys already got us tickets and stuff like that.” And she goes, “No, with me on my plane.” I’m like, “OF COURSE I DO!” So that was beautiful. I heard Oprah never watches her own shows after, but there was an immediate tape made after this and we watched the show twice because we needed it.

And it was an extraordinary, extraordinary experience in a very, very difficult time.


Read Sam’s cover story in this week’s Pasadena Weekly.

Meet MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO star, Sandra Tsing Loh!

sandra-tsing-lohrs1. How’s the Volvo doing?

The Volvo made it to 144,000 miles and then died.  However, for emotional reasons, I have not been able to get rid of it so it is sitting in our driveway covered with dead leaves, peacefully decomposing.

2. Burning Man’s coming up in August. What advice do you have for first-timers?

Re: Burning Man, the advice, as in life, is always simple: Keep Hydrating.

3. What’s your favorite musical?

Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and the happier numbers of West Side Story.

4. What’s your favorite play?

There are so many I can’t pick one.  But I was really struck most recently by Casa Valentina.  Saw it twice.

5. How has your experience been working at The Playhouse?

Working at The Playhouse is the best.  The building, aside from having history and beauty, has such soul, that you can feel.  Sheldon says, “She is very grand.  She responds to gestures that are very specific.”

6. Why should people see The Madwoman in the Volvo?

It’s a midlife crisis, including laughter, tears and–literally–couples therapy, that you can get done in 90 minutes and then go out for wine!  (Or any other festive low-carb treat!)

Meet MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO star, Shannon Holt!


1. How has your experience been working at The Playhouse?

I am having a wonderful time here. The staff, crew, and volunteers are all so incredibly kind, friendly, and dedicated. And the theater is so beautiful. The audiences have been terrific, too.

2. Who have been some of your favorite people to work with?

I love working with really creative and generous people. My two great Madwomen, Sandra and Caroline, rate at the tip top of my list. They are brilliant and inspiring and I am honored to be a part of the team.

3. What’s your favorite musical?

I am not good at picking favorites! I love so many shows for different reasons – but A Chorus Line was the first Broadway musical I saw and I was so moved by it.

4. What’s your favorite play?

A Streetcar Named Desire.

5. You play a lot of characters in The Madwoman in the Volvo. Who was the easiest to portray?

The British Guy.

6. Why should people see The Madwoman in the Volvo?

It is a very funny and sometimes very moving true story, expertly directed by Lisa Peterson, and it will entertain you. I promise!