The Cinderella Among Open-Air Theatres

This isn’t the first time the Ford’s amphitheatre stage has undergone a major transformation… In 1938, four years after his production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hollywood Bowl, film director Max Reinhardt chose the Ford as the venue for his staging of Goethe’s Faust.

In the program notes, Reinhardt described the theatre as “the Cinderella among open-air theatres—in my opinion, the most beautiful of them all.”

Under the direction of set designer Nicolai Remisoff, the production involved the creation of an elaborate Bavarian village, including a church, tavern and prison.

83870.3 1938 July 20 Faust remodel
Watch your wingtips!
83870.5 1938 July 20 Faust remodel
Planning the stage’s Cinderella-esque makeover.
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Remisoff (on the left, with pointer) oversees construction on stage right. (Photo courtesy of Otto Rothschild Collection, The Music Center)
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The stunning completed set—the stonework and the familiar hillside backdrop are the only clues that it’s still the Pilgrimage/Ford. (Photo courtesy of The Red List)

With a breathtaking set like this, it’s no surprise that a who’s who of 1930s era Hollywood movie stars packed the audience for the premiere. An LA Times review describes fans crowding the entrance with their autograph books as stars such as Hedy Lamarr, Peter Lorre, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Olivia de Havilland and Lucille Ball arrived for the performance.

1938.Fritz Lang with Miriam Hopkins at outdoor premiere.Herald Examiner collection
California not-so-casual: Fritz Lang, director of the silent film classic Metropolis, is accompanied by his monocle and actress Miriam Hopkins on opening night, August 23, 1938. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library, Herald Examiner Collection)