This week's THEATER FEATURE On Bobrauschenbergamerica and Orpheus Descending
Arts Leader Lars Hansen Dead at 60
Lars Hansen died Sunday night, January 31, of complications from liver cancer. He was 60. Hansen had a distinguished career in cultural arts management. In Los Angeles, he was Executive Director, Office of Cultural Relations, for the University of Southern California (2001-2004) where he was responsible for creating and maintaining strategic relationships with the cultural institutions of Los Angeles. At USC, he also produced the President's Distinguished Artist/Lecture Series, presenting such notable speakers as Lech Walesa, Isaac Stern, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Prior to that position, he was President of Theatre League Alliance (now LA Stage Alliance), an association of more than 200 member theatres and producers throughout Southern California, which provides various programs and presents the annual Ovation Awards. While there, Hansen began publishing LA Stage Magazine.He also served as the General Manager for the presentation of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 2000.
For over a decade (1988 to 1999), he was the Executive Director of Pasadena Playhouse, the
State Theatre of California. During his tenure, season subscriptions
reached a high of 23,000 and annual attendance exceeded 200,000. He
was directly responsible for the production of more than 150 plays and
musicals, including several that were presented on Broadway: Mail,
Accomplice, Solitary Confinement and The Twilight of the Golds.
Additionally, the Playhouse production of Steel Magnolias toured
nationally and Sisterella, co-produced by Michael Jackson, toured
internationally. The Twilight of the Golds and Baby Dance, both of
which had their world premieres at the Playhouse, were made into films.
Other notable productions included the Los Angeles area premieres of
Forever Plaid, Love Letters, Lend Me A Tenor and Other People's Money.
Among many other artists, Hansen had a longtime collaboration with Tony
Award-winning writer Rupert Holmes, producing the West Coast premiere
of Drood as well as the world premieres of Accomplice and Solitary
Lars Henry Hansen was born on July 11, 1949, in Long Beach, California
where he attended Millikan High School. He began playing the accordion
at a young age and also studied piano and bass. He played bass in his
junior and senior high school bands and attended the Arrowbear Music
Camp. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State
University, Long Beach and did graduate studies in Secondary Education
Administration at CSULB and University of California, Irvine.
After graduation, he became chair of the music department at El Toro
High School in Lake Forest. As its director, the El Toro Marching Band
was highly regarded and was invited to perform for President Gerald
Ford in 1975. Hansen also taught various music courses at Saddleback
College in Mission Viejo.
From 1977-1982, Hansen served as Musical Director and later Executive
Director of the Long Beach Civic Light Opera, which he shepherded from
a community organization to a professional resident theatre under an
agreement with Actors Equity Association. Other positions included
Executive Director for California Music Theatre in Pasadena, Business
Manager for Playwrights Horizons in New York City, and Administrative
Director of American Music Theatre Festival in Philadelphia. He also
taught theatre management courses at the University of Southern
Hansen was joined in matrimony with his partner, attorney Anthony John
Amendola, in a state sanctioned ceremony on September 26, 2008, the
20th anniversary of their relationship. His parents (both deceased)
were Louis and Alberta Hansen. His deceased brother was James Hansen,
long associated with Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. His surviving
brother is retired law enforcement officer Ralph J. Hansen.
In addition to Anthony Amendola and Ralph Hansen, he is survived by his sister-in-law
Rebecca Robinson, his mother-in-law Anna Amendola, his sister-in-law
Dominica Lawson, brother-in-law Richard Lawson and nephew Christopher
Funeral services are pending and a memorial celebration will be held
later in the Los Angeles area. In lieu of flowers, tax deductable
donations may be made in the memory of Lars Hansen to The Palm Springs
Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 171, Palm Springs, CA 92263.