Our Laguna: Parking lot, playhouse are celebrated

October 28, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • Emanuel Patrascu (district Representative for Sen. Tom Campbell and a candidate for Laguna Beach City Council) and Karen Wood (managing director of Laguna Playhouse) with a Resolution from the California Legislature commemorating the Laguna Playhouse on the occasion of their 90th Anniversary.
Emanuel Patrascu (district Representative for Sen.… (courtesy Chris…)

The refurbished Callboard in the Peppertree Parking Lot was dedicated last week as a kickoff for the yearlong celebration of the 90th anniversary season of the Laguna Playhouse.

A large crowd of enthusiastic arts supporters gathered for the ceremony under the pepper tree that gave the parking lot between Forest and Ocean avenues its name.

"This Callboard is making history," said Karyn Philippsen, chairwoman of the anniversary celebration. "It marks 90 years ago — exactly 90 years ago today — that the playhouse began its commitment to theater in Laguna Beach on this spot, nestled under the pepper tree."

Philippsen said one of the perks of chairing the anniversary is the opportunity to learn more about the theater's history and the significance of the Callboard.

The audience for the ceremony included many who remember the original community theater and the Callboard with affection.

"I attended plays here when I was a kid," said Jan Sattler, a Laguna native and artist. "The first one was 'The Boyfriend.'"


The first play Festival of Arts exhibitor Jacquie Moffett saw at the Ocean Avenue site was "Waltz of the Torreadors" in 1959.

"I was 13 when I saw '20th Century Limited,'" starring Keenan Wynn, Moffett said. He came out in the intermission to have a smoke by the Callboard under this very pepper tree.

"I asked for his autograph and when I thanked him, he said I might want to get the autograph of his buddy who was sitting in the balcony. It was Van Johnson, my very favorite actor."

Moffett brought the autograph book, in which Wynn and Johnson had signed their names, to the ceremony.

Karen McBride appeared in the theater long before she starred in the award-winning "Quilters" at the new theater on Broadway. Jim McBride was in the cast of "Manet" at the old theater.

Pageant of the Masters Director Dee Challis Davy starred as Dopey in "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs." Barbara Painter performed in "Tonight at 8:30," directed by Roger Armstrong. Rick Balzer played her son.

The Callboard is truly a Laguna Beach icon and historical treasure.

"When the actors and other artists would come to a performance they would stop at the Callboard to sign in and read any announcements affecting the performance," said Karen Wood, playhouse executive director.

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