I’ve been moved to tears as well as laughter in this theater — from appearances by Hillary Clinton as a Day Of Atonement Yom Kippur Service speaker of the Temple of the Arts, Billy Crystal in his hilarious, one-man show “700 Sundays.” And now, after shuttering for a three month $40 million “revitalization” project, the site begins its new life as The Wilshire Theatre, with benefit show “It’s Magic! A Tribute To Sammy Cahn” by Corky Hale’s Productions.
Rabbi David Baron founded The Temple of the Arts there in 1992 — the Temple bought it from the Nederlander organization in 2005. It is now owned by the Beverly Hills Performing Arts Center, of which Baron is President. The Temple retains a tenancy in perpetuity for Holy Days services and programs such as the Dolly Saken’s School for the Arts, an after-school program for youngsters.
All the seats have been ripped out and replaced, the proscenium has been restored in silver and gold leaf in the rejuvenation by Evergreen Renovations, which includes Radio City Music Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Pantages among its credits. The $40 million upbeat program gets its sendoff on stage Sept. 21.
Rabbi Baron recalled to me he’d seen “Lyrics and Lyricists” on stage at N.Y.’s 92nd Street Y. “I thought it a great idea for us here.” To his happy surprise, Hale told Baron she’d originated that show, and will produce here the “Writers And Their Music” series (“We can’t use the ‘Lyrics and Lyricists’ title,” Baron allowed). The Sammy Cahn tribute will include performances by Sam Harris, Karen Morrow, Byron Motley, Judith Owen, Freda Payne, Harry Shearer and Steve Tyrell. Leonard Maltin narrates.