image Entertainment

Find Yourself at the Ford

By Devin Strecker

June 12, 2014

Everyone knows about the Hollywood Bowl.  Sitting just a short walk up Highland from downtown Hollywood, it’s been offering entertainment for the masses since the 1920’s.  But most people are less familiar with the nearby John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, just up the street in the Cahuenga Pass.  The 1200-seat outdoor venue is part of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and features exciting and eclectic programming.

Their Summer Series runs from May until October and features music, dance and film events which are selected through an application process open to performing arts organizations in Los Angeles county.  Upcoming events include the LA So-Cal Dance Invitational on June 20; Alice in Wonderland by Bellydance Evolution on August 1; and Broadway Under the Stars presented by Chris Isaacson on August 16.  (I recently attended the Night After the Tony’s with Linda Eder, pictured above, and it was an amazing experience!)

The Big World Fun series includes music and dance events on Saturday mornings throughout July and August.  They are geared towards children ages 4-12 and their families; children are admitted free, adults pay $5.

Another popular series is their JAM Sessions, which are free, interactive Monday night events where attendees are invited on to the stage to dance, sing, and play music with the guidance of professional artists from the Ford summer season.

The Signature Series is made possible with support from LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and features world-renowned performers with locals.  Proceeds from these events benefit the Ford Theatre Foundation.  Upcoming events in this series include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with The Dustbowl Revival on July 5; and Ezralow Dance by choreographer Daniel Ezralow, who choreographed the 2014 Sochi Olympics opening ceremonies, on September 13.

One of the Ford’s newest offerings is Find Your Space at the Ford, providing a FREE central locations for Angelenos to meet up and practice their art.  Individuals and groups are invited to bring their handcrafts, folk traditions, fine art, music or dance practices on the Ford’s entrance way and plaza throughout the summer.  To reserve a date, sign up at fordtheatres.org/opportunity.

The history of the Theatre is pretty unique as well – it was originally built in 1920 by Christine Wetherill Stevenson, an author and heiress to the Pittsburgh Paint Company.  When no theatre company wanted to stage her work, “The Pilgramage Play,” she decided to build her own venue.  The original wooden structure burnt down in 1929, but it was rebuilt and the show went on, until 1964.  Deeded to the County in 1941, it went through some hard times later in the century, until it was renovated in 1993 and the “Summer Nights at the Ford” program was born.

For all upcoming shows and events, visit the website at www.fordamphitheater.org.

Devin Strecker serves as manager of communications and social media of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.  He previously spent eight years working for the nearby Hollywood Media District BID, starting out as an administrative assistant and working up to operations coordinator.  He graduated from Fort Hays State University, near his hometown of Paradise, Kansas, with a degree in information networking and telecommunications, emphasis in media studies.  He is a musician with his own band, Devin Tait and the Traitors.

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