Vanguard Rep recently finished its third annual professional “La Cañada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival” — innovative Equity productions of Shakespearean classics adapted to run 90 minutes or less — at Byrnes Amphitheatre on the grounds of the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. Watch for its return next summer. Established in 2007 by Matthew Kellen Burgos and Sam Ross for the creation of new works and adaptations, and as a conduit for new projects and artists to other L.A.-area venues, Vanguard Rep also runs a comprehensive theater conservatory program. The company has new works in development and plans to expand its calendar of productions within the next year.
A Noise Within
3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
A Noise Within, Los Angeles' leading professional classical theater company, launched its 20th anniversary season last fall with “Twelfth Night,” the inaugural production at its new 33,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art digs in Pasadena. Previously housed in Glendale in a former Masonic Temple, this much-lauded theater company, led by husband-and-wife co-founders and Co-Artistic Directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, has seen its subscriber base nearly double since it made the gutsy move to the new multimillion-dollar venue. Upcoming: Shakespeare's “Cymbeline” (Sept. 29 to Nov. 18), “The Doctor's Dilemma,” by George Bernard Shaw (Oct. 20 to Nov. 25) and “A Christmas Carol” (Dec. 8 to 23).
39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena
Designated the State Theater of California in 1937 and today one of this country's major nonprofit regional theaters, the 684-seat Pasadena Playhouse still operates out of the elegant Spanish Colonial Revival style building that it has called home since 1925. Its future has been shaky at times, but after emerging from a short period of bankruptcy in 2010, the theater, under the stalwart leadership of Artistic Director Sheldon Epps, has had a string of high-profile successes — ”Blues for an Alabama Sky,” “Art,” “The Heiress” and “Jitney” (a co-production with South Coast Repertory) among them. Recent productions that have gone on to national tours, or to Broadway or Off Broadway runs, include “Looped” with Valerie Harper, “Sister Act: The Musical” and “Baby It's You.” Upcoming: “Under My Skin,” a world premiere comedy (Sept. 19 to Oct. 7), Lynn Nottage's “Intimate Apparel” (Nov. 6 to Dec. 2) and “A Snow White Christmas,” a Lythgoe Family Production (Dec. 13 to 23).
Theatre @ Boston Court
70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena
The lavish 99-seat Theatre @ Boston Court, home to edgy and bold artist-driven new work, opened in 2003 at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Its highly theatrical, thought-provoking, often movement-based offerings are informed by the complementary creative visions of Co-Artistic Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti. The theater's critically acclaimed presentation of “The Government Inspector,” a world premiere adaptation of the Nikolai Gogol classic — and a co-production with the equally edgy Furious Theatre Company — runs through Aug. 26. Upcoming: “Creation,” a world premiere play by Kathryn Walat (Oct. 13 to Nov. 11).
Parson's Nose Productions
Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
A company of classically trained artists in residence at the Lineage Performing Arts Center, Parson's Nose was founded in 2000 by actors Lance Davis and Mary Chalon with a mission “to introduce classic theater to audiences of all ages.” The company's broad-stroke, one-hour adaptations of comedies by Shakespeare, Molière, Goldoni and other classic playwrights and authors can be memorable for their hilarity, particularly when Davis, Michael Manuel and other longtime company members take the stage. Upcoming: “Reader's Theatre: A Christmas Carol” (Dec. 22 and 23).
Fremont Centre Theatre
1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena
The 75-seat professional Fremont Centre Theatre, housed in an atmospheric, 1920s-era building (it was once a mortuary), opened in 1997 under the founding leadership of Co-Artistic Directors and married stage and screen actors James and Lissa Reynolds. Emphasizing new plays and emerging playwrights, the theater's eclectic offerings range from the world premiere of “National Pastime” (the story of Jackie Robinson) and Lissa Reynolds' touring signature show, “A Woman of Independent Means,” to FCT's most recent show, “Holding On — Letting Go,” an exploration of illness and end-of-life issues, and Ray Bradbury's Pandemonium Theatre shows. Now running: a guest production of “How Obama Got His Groove Back,” a new comedy (Aug. 18 to Oct. 7). (Full disclosure: My daughter joined FCT's staff in 2010.)