High hopes for Avenue Theatre

Dear Editor:With all the hubbub going on about the Avenue Theatre, I'd like to propose it as the first step in the road to recover for the faltering-at-best "Downtown" Downey. As a young (20) founding member of a local Downey-based improv group on the rise, I don't look at the Avenue as just a picture show kind of place. I think it could possibly be a rotating performance space. Three months of films, three months of stage plays, three months of Shakespeare, and then three other months dedicated to other forms of art such as art galleries, performance artists, and instructional workshops. I've heard the argument from the City Council concerning its close location to the Downey Theatre. As much as I‚Äàappreciate having performed with such a large crowd at that venue with my group for a night of comedy last month, the cost is a major reason for it sitting like an extinct volcano. I'll not get into exacts, but one night cost our benefactors a multiple of four-figures. That is not easy for a small improv group, let alone a good deal of theater companies, but I‚Äàmust admit it is somewhat of a bargain for a 700-seat house. The problem is that even with the deal they gave us, it's well out of reach of small groups such as us or other troupes and acts. So where could these small groups go that can't afford something as rich and decadent as the Downey Theatre?‚ÄàOh, look, it's the Avenue! We must all understand that this is also in a prime location for a small theater. When my group attempts to find a new theater, we have to look behind the "orange curtain" that is Orange County's theater scene. Or we have to figure out a way to go into the mad crunch that is Hollywood, with nothing affordable in areas that will get you seen. The Avenue is perfectly placed in the middle ground: not too far from Hollywood to get them into here, and just up the street from the theater nuts in the OC. It could also be used to host local music events featuring bands from the high/middle schools and local kids. That's something that would bring in the young folks to a city that has decided to aim its appeal well beyond its large youth population. Heck, could you imagine if the Avenue suddenly took off in popularity and became the place to get your start and the legends of comedy and music recognized this, deciding to hit up the venue? Let us hope that the City Council actually listens to the people they are supposed to serve and prevent a severe botch-up of this sure-fire diamond in the rough. - Jared Head, Founder, Chameleon Comedy

********** Published: May 8, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 3