East West, which specializes in plays with Asian themes, spent the first 30 years of its existence in a Silverlake ex-warehouse, operating under Actor's Equity sub-100 seat plan.
EWP's new theatre is located in the refurbished Union Church, a downtown landmark now known as the Union Center for the Arts. The transition from Equity-waiver to mid-size house cost the EWP $1.7 million, which represents a one-third share in the new building. Other occupants are the nonprofits Visual Communications and Artcore Gallery.
EWP's major donors include playwright David Henry Hwang's family ($150,00) and George and Sakaye Aratani ($160,000). EWP named its theatre after David Henry Hwang and its courtyard after the Aratanis.
"The crossover appeal of Sondheim's work is important," said EWP Artistic Director Tim Dang who also staged Pacific Overtures. "If East West is to survive on this new level, we too have to open up, as Japan [in the Sondheim musical] did in 1853. We're now in a city-owned facility. We have to share it with the other people of Los Angeles." Pacific Overtures runs through April 5 at 120 N. Judge John Aiso St. Performances are Thu.-Sat. at 8 PM and Sat. and Sun. at 2 PM (no matinee Mar. 21). For tickets, $20-$32, call (800) 233-3123.