West Angeles Performing Arts Theater
Now in its 23rd season, the West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre is an extension of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the visionary leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. The Performing Arts Theatre is on a determined path to provide quality entertainment that uplifts, enriches and educates our community.
West Angeles’ Performing Arts Theatre (WAPAT) is committed to excellence in Christian entertainment. We use the performing arts as a tool with which to minister and to evangelize, with an emphasis on value for human worth. Because of the vision of our Pastor, this venue is unique in that it offers alternative entertainment for the entire family year round.
The theater first opened its doors in 1942 as a movie theater. Then called the Crenshaw Theater, the structure was designed by architect S. Charles Lee. Its relatively small size and simple design was an alternative to the large, ornate movie palaces of the day.
In 1952 it was purchased by actor Nick Stewart, a member of the Amos & Andy comedy troupe. This made WAPAT the first African American-operated theater in Los Angeles. Stewart’s Ebony Showcase Theater was formed to produce productions which offered an alternative to the stereotypical, derogatory roles offered to African-American actors at the time.
In the late 1950s, the theater operated as the L.A. Jazz Concert Theatre, then the Kokusai Theatre. In 1985, West Angeles Church purchased the building and formed the West Angeles Christian Arts Center.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- 1985 – West Angeles purchases the building. The facility is home to its Spanish language church service, its Fine Arts department, and for various lectures.
- 1989 – “Sweet Lemon,” West Angeles Christian Arts Center’s first full-length play, is produced.
- 1994 – Actor/producer Robert Townsend uses the theater to create the stage production of his hit film, “The Five Heartbeats”.
- 1995 – The 474-seat theatre is renovated and equipped with new state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment and backstage dressing rooms, and renamed the West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre. The user-friendly establishment presents its first full season of plays under the management of actor/writer/producer Marvin Wright-Bey.
The West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre stage has been graced by such notable Hollywood and music industry personalities as Samuel L. Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Charlayne Woodard, Stevie Wonder, Wren Brown, Anna Maria Horsford, James Avery, Doc Powell, Kirk Whalum, Melba Moore, John Amos, and a host of others.
To date, the West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre is the oldest African American church-owned and operated theater facility in Los Angeles, California.
WAPAT – PRESENT and FUTURE
WAPAT hosts a variety of events for adults, youth and children. The Clean Komedy Explosion features the finest in Christian comedians and local recording artists and is one of our most popular events. We’ve hosted events such as the Christian Wrestling Association, the noted Gospel Opera, “The Great Controversy”, and “In the Middle”, a theater program that introduces the arts to primary grade-school students.
90% of the events presented at the theater are produced by churches, arts groups, dance schools and a few well-known mainstream producers in our surrounding community. Several NAACP Theater Award-winning plays have received recognition for their performances on our stage. We have been credited for successfully launching a number of national tours from our facility.
Our facility has been used for numerous film projects, television casting calls, and independent film screenings.
The West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre also operates as a rental venue. We help to facilitate the dreams of Christian performers involved in the various disciplines of the arts in our community. Writers, directors, producers, dancers, musicians, set designers, lighting and sound technicians, actors and other craftsmen have a chance to explore their gifts in a healthy, safe and encouraging environment. This allows them to use their God-given talents while they grow in Christ.
To rent WAPAT, please call 323/733-8707 for more information, or please fill out the form below.
To purchase tickets, please visit our box office. We’re located in the Crenshaw district at 3020 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90016. Please CLICK HERE for maps and directions. Please call 323/733-8707 for more information.
At the West Angeles Performing Arts Theater, we take seriously our responsibility to God, to our community, and to the world. We see a bright future ahead, and we solicit your continued support.
Come and join us for a season of GREAT PERFORMANCES!