As the cliche goes, it’s not always easy to tell when the seasons change in Los Angeles. But one sure sign of summer is when Southern California pulls back the curtain on its beloved outdoor arenas. This summer brings in changes for outdoor nights, off-stage and on.
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
More summer nights
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Wrapped in 45 acres of chaparral and cypress in Hollywood’s Cahuenga Pass, the Ford is the place for Los Angeles-based talent performing an eclectic mix of music, dance and film.
The Ford will host a record 16 in-house J.A.M.(Jazzed and Motivated) sessions that pair patrons with musicians and dancers for free interactive artistic lessons. In addition, a $150,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation is helping fund 40 Ford shows at five hubs across L.A. County.
By the numbers:
1,200 seats, 50 more shows this season
Malcolm-Jamal Warner (“The Cosby Show”) and Grammy-nominated R&B vocalist Angie Stone headline Flypoet’s spoken-word performance (July 7); Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet re-creates Mayan legends of lost souls and princesses with more than 30 dancers and musicians (July 14); funk pioneer Mandrill — whose sounds have been sampled by Eminem and Kanye West — perform its signature fusion of rock, R&B and jazz (Aug. 4).
In partnership with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Ford offers its summer performers (who are selected though an application process), free rent, front-of-house services, marketing assistance and 75% to 95% of ticket sales.
In its 91st season, the architectural and musical favorite’s shell-shaped amphitheater expects to host more than 1 million guests — and nearly as many picnics.
The Bowl has undergone $5.6 million in off-stage upgrades to stairways and walkways, including a revamp of all its restrooms (16,164 square feet in all) with an emphasis on energy- and time-saving fixtures. Patina Restaurants will offer a locally sourced vegan picnic basket (portabello steaks, quinoa and veggies), as well as a new lineup of soju cocktails flavored with fruits that will rotate based on what’s in season and who’s on stage.
By the numbers:
17,376 seats, 67 more shows
Soft rocker Barry Manilow headlines the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular (July 2-4); Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Richard Kind star in Mel Brooks’ Tony-winning “The Producers” (July 27-29); “Pixar in Concert” will feature clips from all 12 of the animation powerhouse’s films set to scores performed live by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (Aug. 3-5); Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel and superstar tenor Plácido Domingo collaborate for the first time with a program of Latin songs and operatic arias (Aug. 17).
On an average night, the Bowl has 18 eateries to choose from and sells 1,800 picnic baskets.
Grammy-, Emmy -, Tony-winner Marvin Hamlisch takes the baton for his second season as the principal Pops conductor with a mix of classical sounds, pop hits and Broadway show tunes.
The Pasadena Pops has taken over the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, former home to the California Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years, and added high-tech upgrades including LED screens flanking the stage, hi-definition speakers sprinkled throughout the venue and (not-so-outdoorsy) “VIP flushable restroom stations.”
By the numbers:
5,000 seats, 3 shows
Singer-pianist Michael Feinstein joins Hamlisch and the symphony for a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter (July 21).
The Arboretum is home to an abundant peacock population that sometimes serves as unexpected screeching soloists.
For two decades, the Orange County hotel has been hosting a mostly smooth jazz summer series Friday nights in its intimate amphitheater.
For its 21st season the Hyatt has partnered with Omega Events (the folks behind JazzFest West and the Doheny Blues Festival) to extend the musical lineup to also include pop headliners.
By the numbers:
1,200 seats, 14 more shows
Saxophonist Michael Lington joins Michael Bolton to jazz up the Grammy-winner’s soft rock staples (Aug. 3). Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti performs his signature jazz fusion (Aug. 24). R&B singer BeBe Winans and jazz saxophonist Dave Koz mix musical genres (Aug. 17).
The hotel, known in the 1960s as the Newporter Inn, has hosted celebrity clientele off stage: Presidents Kennedy and Nixon stayed in the villas and John Wayne played poker in the wine cellar.
Shakespeare and other playwrights are performed now through September in the great outdoors at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, with a hippie version of “Measure for Measure” and George Bernard Shaw's “Heartbreak House” among this season's productions in the oak-filled Topanga Canyon amphitheater.
Concerts on Cañon holds a dozen free concerts Thursday nights through Sept. 13 with music as diverse as gypsy jazz and doo-wop, as well as five movie nights on Sundays, all set in the picnic-friendly Beverly Cañon Gardens.
KCRW Summer Nights returns with its traveling series of free outdoor shows including exhibition-inspired DJ sets starting Thursday at the Hammer Museum and live local bands starting July 14 at the Annenberg Space for Photography.
The California Philharmonic's annual Festival on the Green summer series kicks off Saturday in its new home at the Santa Anita Park racetrack and features classical music of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Broadway with the San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop.
Pacific Symphony's summer festival begins July 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine with music from the Eagles and a fireworks finale, and wraps Sept. 1 with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” on screen with the symphony performing the score.