The John Anson Ford Theater: one of Los Angeles's lesser-known gems
2580 Cahuenga Blvd., East Hollywood, CA 90068
The John Anson Ford Amphitheater is a charming open-air venue nestled in the Hollywood Hills. The 1,241-seat theater, situated on a 45-acre Los Angeles County Park, is a non-profit venture run by the LA County Arts Commission.
A smaller, more intimate neighbor of the more famous and more expensive Hollywood Bowl, the Ford offers affordable arts events and the occasional big name act year round, but esspecially as part of its "Summer at the Ford" Series. Unlike the Hollywood Bowl, however, the Ford faces into the hills rather than out from the hills, providing a beautiful backdrop of cypresses, pines, and chaparral. Also, whereas visitors to the Bowl often find themselves sitting several hundred feet away, no patron at the Ford is more than 96 feet from the stage. A unique feature at the Ford is the numerous picnic tables on the grounds, where people are encouraged to bring sack-dinners to eat before performances.
The theater was originally built in 1920 as the site of the "Pilgrimage Play," based on the life of Jesus Christ. The Pilgrimage Play was performed from 1920 until 1964, when a lawsuit concerning the use of public funds for religious purposes forced it to stop showing. The Theater was then converted into a venue for affordable arts and family programming. Now one of the centerpieces of the County Arts Commission's public programming, the Ford has undergone $4.3 million in capital improvements since 1995.