Cultural Arts: Stages

Artist Testimonials

Lily Tomlin “From the very beginning Jane and I have been thrilled to have the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Cultural Arts Program named after us. For 22 years, under the incomparable leadership of artistic director Jon Imparato, they have produced some of the most exciting, original, and diverse theater that we have seen. The way Jon programs celebrity shows in their large Renberg Theater and exceptional plays in the black-box Davidson/Valentini Theatre is just a marvel to us. Their long list of awards is a reflection of the excellence of their work. We are proud to have our names on such a wonderful program, one that represents the diversity, complexity, pain, and humor of our community with integrity, fearlessness, and consummate professionalism.”

Eve Ensler (on the 1998 West Coast premiere of The Vagina Monologues at the Renberg Theatre) “A lot of people hadn’t done the play then, and it was a risk. I loved the idea of doing it at the [L.A. Gay & Lesbian] Center. Everyone who worked on the show was so involved in it for the right reasons. Just caught up in the whole energy of people wanting to be empowered and healed. I just think the whole place is so fantastic. So beautifully done and so much love in it. It’s really a gorgeous, gorgeous place.”

Lainie Kazan “When Jon Imparato invited me to sing at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center I was unaware of what an extraordinary facility I’d be performing in. From the minute I walked into the Center, I knew something important was happening there and I was proud to play a part in whatever way I could. The staff and crew at the Renberg Theatre were highly professional and extremely passionate about their work. It’s a place where positive things are being done and I truly felt uplifted by the experience.”

Jenifer Lewis “I was very impressed with the place. It’s like another world when you walk into that space. There was a lot of laughter. People moved with a purpose that’s to be respected. They knew they were there for something important.”

Jane Lynch “Performing at The Village is such a joy! It’s a first class operation run by top notch volunteers and staff. Not only do they provide a wonderful space in which to work but through savvy promotion and great word of mouth these devoted folks fill the seats night after night.”

Megan Mullally “It’s a great way to give back even though you’re performing. You feel like you’re helping out the community…Whatever ripple I’ve been able to make is infinitesimal compared to what they do on a daily basis.” 

Kathy Griffin  “First of all, it is the best theater in Los Angeles. They promote it better than any other theater. It’s run really well. It’s beautiful. It’s clean. The audiences are the best in the world. The only thing is, and maybe it’s inappropriate for me to say this, but it’s absolutely CRAWLING with gay people.”

Alec Mapa “The Renberg Theater has been my artistic home going on ten years now. Whether I’ve been employed or at barrel’s bottom, there’s always been a smart, sexy, exacting audience waiting for me at The Village. Over the years they’ve demanded the absolute best from me. Whether or not I’ve actually delivered, I know for certain, The Village has been essential to my development as a performer, and I am truly grateful.”

Jackie Hoffman “They are not weasel club owners who are hungry for their own profit. They actually care about you as an artist, and appreciate the work. At least my work, but my stuff is really good. And bless them for the promotion they do.”

Kathy Najimy “The ‘Lily and Jane’ Cultural Center is a hotbed of fun in a box! The staff is exquisite and performances are diverse and always amazing. It is run impeccably and even the snacks are top rate.”

Mo Gaffney “Performing at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza’s Renberg Theatre (thump………… sorry, I said all of that without taking a breath and I fainted….) is like coming home. Not that I ever lived at a Gay and Lesbian Center, but I know if I had I’d have higher self-esteem than I do today. It’s like performing for your best friends who “get you.” There is such love there and comfort, really. Everyone that works there is so smart and creative, whether off stage or on stage, and they work their hearts out. I’m thinking of donating a bench so it can be called the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza’s Renberg Theatre BENCH. No? Okay.”

Julia Sweeney “Doing my show at the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center was such a dream come true! Everything was just wonderful: the support staff, the acoustics, the size of the theater—intimate and yet seemingly big and expansive—the courtyard was beautiful at night and there was parking! And the audiences were great and thankful and appreciative to be there. It was an easy load-in and load-out and they were explicit in what they needed me to get done and helpful if things went a bit wrong (which they did—a wee bit—and it was totally my fault!). Anyway, I would recommend this place to anyone if they are lucky enough to get the chance to perform here or film here or even to rent the place out—it’s fabulous. My very favorite theater of this size in L.A.”

Peter Paige “In just a few short years, the Cultural Arts division of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has contributed significantly to the Los Angeles art and theatre scene. My personal experience there was incredibly positive—I found it to be a place where risk is encouraged, sanity abounds, and bravery is of the highest order. This, when combined with the strong vision of the artists who choose to work there, is the exact recipe for artistic success.”

Clinton Leupp (Miss Coco Peru) “I loved The Village from the moment I first walked in there. It is a wonderful space, I get to work with supportive people, and I know that the money being raised is going to programs that benefit my community. As a performer, The Village also makes me feel safe. Usually when people walk into The Village they’re coming to have a good time, and having that bar strategically set up before my shows helps too!”

Joely Fisher “After hearing about who had gone in there and the material they did, to me it was a place where you could take risks. You could try something out and know the audience was on your side. You walk in that door and realize the staff is amazing, accomplished in the theater and perfectionists like you. I didn’t need to look any further than the people who were there.”

Andrea Meyerson, Founder, Women On A Roll/StandOut Productions “The many collaborations between Women On A Roll and the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center have provided an exciting and powerful way to build community in Los Angeles. The staff at The Village never compromises on quality and always places service to the community at the top of its priorities. It’s always a joy to work with such dedicated professionals.”

Jessica Litwak (Author of Victory Dance and Secret Agents) “The main thing I share with [them] is the real sense of the standard of form and content. We want really good acting and direction. Plays where you’ve learned something or your world has shifted a bit.”  

Patrick Bristow “Performing at The Village always makes me feel a stronger connection to our community. It reminds me that when theatre, music, and art are presented in a specific community venue, they can sometimes better achieve their highest goal: to make people think as well as to entertain.”

Bill Rauch, Artistic Director, Cornerstone Theater Company “Our collaboration with The Village was a true high point for our company in seventeen years of community-based theater projects all over the country. I very much hope that we’ll be able to do more together, and we stand ready to help you or your programs however and whenever we can be of service. Thank you for all your insight, creativity, and spirit.”

Dennis Hensley “The Village and the folks behind it really took a chance on me as performer early on and that meant—and continues to mean—so much to me. As a facility, it’s one of the best performing spaces around and it’s always able to accommodate whatever audio-visual tricks I’m trying to pull off. And the staff there are as friendly and warm as they are professional and hardworking. I just love being there, whether I’m putting on a show or just enjoying one. The Village really feels like home.”

Adelina Anthony “Performing at The Village means the critical inclusion of my voice within the larger framework of artists pushing the bar. More importantly, it means my communities of Chicana/Latinas/Queers of Color also find themselves reflected in this cultural landscape. In Los Angeles, The Village is my artistic home for so many reasons. Consistently, I have found the staff wholly supportive, enthusiastic and professional–what else can a queer radical artist ask for?”

Bellina Logan “I consider myself so lucky that I have been able to work with the amazing Jon Imparato and the wonderfully talented and lovely staff at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. It’s like a second home to me. Whenever, I walk through those gates at The Village, whether it’s to see a wonderful production there or be a part of a production or rehearsal, I always take a minute and look around at that gorgeous courtyard, the energy changes and becomes magical. I breathe a sigh of relief because I feel instantly safe, welcome, happy and filled with the possibility that something really creative and fabulous is about to happen.”

D’Lo “May the queer gods bless Jon Imparato and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, for they have provided me a theater home here in Los Angeles. From the production department, to the tech crew, to the staff—everyone is mighty powerful, talented, treats everyone with respect and kindness and are just plain-awesome to get to know. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be presented and produced at the Center over the years, because no one in LA is producing Trans Theater Makers of Color with the amount of resources, love and attention to detail… and no one in LA looks this good doing it!”