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Beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater to reopen in Highland Park this fall

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The new home—a former theater—will be inspired by decades-old sketches

A rendering of the renovated York Boulevard theater.
Courtesy of Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will reopen in a new brick-and-mortar location this fall, theater representatives said Tuesday. The new marionette theater will be housed in a former theater and Korean church on York Boulevard in Highland Park.

The theater left its longtime Westlake home in November. The building that has housed the theater for more than five decades is slated to be demolished at an unknown date to make way for a mixed-use development. The theater was offered a space in the new project but decided to strike out on its own.

“This was the space where you could pretty much walk in and see it right away,” the theater’s executive director and lead puppeteer Alex Evans told the Los Angeles Times. “We don’t have to change much to make it feel Bob Baker.”

Architecture firm Escher GuneWardena has signed on to help renovate the Highland Park theater for its new tenant. The building, which was built in the 1920s, has a few remaining Art Deco touches that theater leadership is excited to incorporate into the new theater.

“We’ve done [performances] in a box for 55 years,” Evans told the Times. “There’s moldings on the doorways here. That’s more than we had in the other theater.”

With its bright red curtains and prolific tinsel, the original marionette theater will be a hard act to follow, but the future home of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater will be based on “original and unrealized concepts by Bob Baker himself,” as seen in drawings by Morton Haack—the costume designer for the original Planet of the Apes—sketched nearly 60 years ago.

A rendering by Morton Haack.
A rendering by Morton Haack.

The new theater will also incorporate “all the beloved features of the current theater, from the drywall to the chandeliers.”

Bob Baker and Alton Wood opened the marionette theater in 1963. Both were puppeteers.

Baker worked on numerous films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and episodes of Star Trek, according city documents related to the theater’s landmarking.