The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre is the Hollywood venue you might not have heard about. It’s been likened to the stepsister of the far more famous Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre, but it should be on your Los Angeles bucket list.
The intimate venue is set in the prickly, golden hillsides of the Cahuenga Pass, and it’s fresh off the heels of a $72.2-million makeover that brought in a new dining terrace, beautiful wood stage, and top-notch acoustics that block out the roar of the 101 freeway.
“It’s had a harness on it that it held it back,” says former Los Angeles County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who helped lead the effort to refurbish the venue. In LA, he says, “no single venue needed bringing into the 21st century more than this one.”
The renovations were helmed by celebrated LA architect Brenda Levin and landscape architect Mia Lehrer.
Given the Ford’s history, it’s fitting that the work was helmed by women. The ford exists today because of wealthy heiress and aspiring playwright, Christine Wetherill Stevenson. She wanted a rustic outdoor setting for staging a religious drama that she had written, and in order to build the Ford, she “helped carry stones from the nearby hills.” Originally called the Pilgrimage Play Theatre, it opened in 1920.
The Ford’s season lasts through October, so there’s plenty of time to take in a show as as we head into the dog days of summer.
Below is a photo tour of the theater’s sleek new renovations.