Flores looks at theater

The interior of 97-seat Elysian.

Elysian Valley - A nearly century old theater that just changed hands for the first time in more than 50 years is reopening as a comedy venue - and adopting a long-running midnight variety show.

The former Studio Theatre Playhouse on Riverside Drive has gone back to calling itself The Elysian, the name it had in the 1930s. 

It's already had its soft opening this week. The grand opening is on Oct. 30.

The new owner is Steven Edelson, a colorful nightclub owner and entrepreneur who has also been involved at various times with Home in Los Feliz, and Los Globos and El Cid in Silver Lake. The programming at the 97-seat theater is being run by a group simply called The Elysian - and the upcoming shows are comedy, broadly defined.

“We aim to do comedy, but we plan to do things beyond what people think of as comedy,” said Kate Banford, the executive director at the Elysian.

Clowning. Improv. Mime. Game shows. Poetry. Dance. Experiments. Anything with some sense of humor behind it, Banford said.

The theater located in a small strip of commercial buildings, began screening silent films after being constructed in 1927. The theater, which operated under different names, showed films until the 1950s. It later emerged as a live theater venue in the 1960s and was home to several theater companies -- the Studio Theatre, Colony Theatre and Knightsbridge Theater -- over the decades. 

This week's grand opening of The Elysian include the improvisational group “Clown Zoo," comedian and “Broad City” writer Naomi Ekperigin (whose credits include touring with the National Theatre for the Deaf), and - perhaps funniest of all - karaoke.

Then after midnight, the Tomorrow show begins a run in its new home, after surviving for a year-and-a-half on Instagram. [Full disclosure: The author of this article has performed at the Tomorrow show numerous times.] The show has run for more than 15 years at various venues around town (mostly at the old Steve Allen Theater in Los Feliz, before it was sold to developers), with a mix of experimental comedy, meta-comedy, and things that stretch so far, they may not actually be comedy anymore.

"The audience and the performers are still working out the kinks of their relationship, and that can actually be good," the Tomorrow show's host, Ron Lynch, said about returning to work in live theater. "Things become fresh again, and as far as comedy goes, the physical part is back, and you aren't locked into a one camera shot on a small screen. Everybody is happy to be back except for those who thrived on the being forced to isolate. I can't wait!"

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Assistant Editor

Barry Lank has worked for newspapers on the East and West Coasts, and earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University. He formerly produced "National Lampoon Presents: The Final Edition." A native of San Gabriel Valley, he now lives in East Hollywood.

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