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Pasadena’s Music and Theater Guide

December 10, 2019

| Posted in Arts & Culture

Do you accidentally give driving directions using stage left and stage right? Is your go-to dance move the jazz square? If you’re a musical and theater lover, don’t wait one more day. Get tickets to see some of Broadway’s greatest talents and Hollywood’s biggest stars, plus support local playwrights and scriptwriters by attending their performances at some of Pasadena’s most creative performing arts locations. After all, all the world’s a stage. 

Pasadena Playhouse at 39 S. El Molino Ave.

The Pasadena Playhouse, also known as the official State Theater of California, has a rich, vibrant history dating back to 1917 when the Gilmor Brown Players originally established its roots. Since then, the theater has acted as a college for acting, directing, stage technology, and playwriting, as well as having produced over 550 new works, 1200 shows, and spearheaded over 500 world premieres. If you can’t make it to a specific event, the Playhouse also offers free theater tours (as long as reservations are made in advance.) 

Pasadena Civic Auditorium at 300 E. Green St. 

The Pasadena Civic Auditorium, located at the Pasadena Convention Center, has served as the background for hundreds of artists and performers, including setting the stage for Michael Jackson’s first moonwalk and being known as the site were the band, Van Halen was discovered. The auditorium also hosts events like the Daytime Emmy Awards, television shows like “America’s Got Talent,” and live performances like Lythgoe Family Panto’s annual Christmas performance, which has featured stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Ariana Grande, Sabrina Carpenter, and more. 

Boston Court Performing Arts Center at 70 N. Mentor Ave.


The Boston Court Performing Art Center is an avante-garde center for creative works. The two theaters seat 99 and 60 patrons, allowing for an intimate black-box experience like no other. The Boston Court is known for creating and presenting especially innovative, diverse, vital, and adventurous works.

Parson’s Nose Theater at 95 N. Marengo Ave.

This brick building covered in vines and greenery is a little hideaway for an intimate theater setting. This non-profit classical theater has a classical charm to match its classical repertoire. Parson’s Nose Theater performs specially written, condensed versions of classics in under 90 minutes including Shakespeare and Dickens to build a bridge from the 17th century to the 21st. 

The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater Company at 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave.

Photo credit: The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater Company

Named after one of the arguably most famous English playwrights of all time, The Shakespeare Theater Company is an ensemble that aims to draw attention to some of the more intimate, personal, and riskier productions of William Shakespeare. The non-profit cast of self-proclaimed “theatre nerds” is commonly composed of TV show actors, NYU trainees, and alumni from Shakespeare’s Old Globe in London. 

Poo-Bah Record Shop at 2636 E. Colorado Blvd. and Canterbury Records at 805 E. Colorado Blvd.

Poo-Bah is an old school record shop located on Pasadena’s busiest street — Colorado Blvd. Visitors and locals alike enjoy treasure hunting through the aisles for classic vinyl records, cassette tapes, and CDs from up-and-coming artists, oldies, and even obscure one-hit-wonders. Canterbury Records, also located on the same street, focuses on indie artists and carries new and used discography, records, and more for genres like rock, bluegrass, and jazz.  

Pasadena Symphony

The Pasadena Symphony, formerly known as the Pasadena Civic Symphony (whose home used to be the Pasadena Civic Auditorium), is an internationally recognized symphony conducted by Grammy-nominated David Lockington. The Symphony, POPS Symphony, and Youth Symphony Orchestras travel around Pasadena to various venues, gardens, and more to enrich the city with music and delight.

A Noise Within

A Noise Within Theatre is a mainstay repertory theater that showcases classic plays, and hosts events, readings, and symposiums for the Pasadena theater and performing arts community. They commonly collaborate with peer organizations to offer dance, music, art installations, and non-traditional theater.

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