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Best of the City

From design to dining and everything in between, here are L.A.’s most exciting offerings for 2014.


Waldo Fernandez and Shelli Azoff inside the Forum

Photo by Angela Marklew


Hometown Glory 
When the city’s major sports franchises left the Forum for the Staples Center in 1999, it marked the end of an era for the famed Inglewood arena. Fast-forward 13 years and in comes music exec Irving Azoff and the Madison Square Garden Company’s James Dolan, who acquired and renovated the space for a hefty $100 million. With a laser focus on creating a premier music venue, the revamp features theater-style red velvet seats, images from rock ’n’ roll photographers like Henry Diltz and Neal Preston, an exterior painted in the venue’s original vibrant red from the 1960s, and a sleek backstage area courtesy of designer extraordinaire Waldo Fernandez and Irving’s wife, Shelli Azoff. “I designed the space with musicians in mind,” says Fernandez, who collaborated with local artist Retna to do artwork for the doors of the nine dressing rooms, as well as the game room and gym. The duo also worked to make sure the space was comfortable yet practical for musicians. Says Shelli, “We want to make the artists feel like they don’t need to leave.” 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, 212.465.6741

Center Stage
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is itself a masterpiece, but the Beverly Hills gem will soon host another. England’s revered Kneehigh Theatre takes the stage at The Wallis for Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter. The classic and gripping work chronicles an illicit love affair as it unfolds within the walls of a train station. Drawing upon Coward’s Still Life and the play’s 1945 cinematic adaptation, Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter is also an artistic cross-section of sorts, melding film and dramatic acting. The end result is as multifaceted as the story, and still relevant more than a half-century after the original work’s debut. “That is the power of a great and enduring story,” says director Emma Rice. “We can all own it and feel it, and find something of ourselves in it.” During the limited engagement, patrons of The Wallis will do just that. Feb. 15-March 23, $49-$89, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.746.4000

Senior exhibition developer Karina White had just one goal when she set out to reimagine the Main Exhibition Hall of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens: prove that libraries are exceptionally relevant in a hyperdigital age. A new, permanent exhibit called Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times: Highlights From the Huntington Library features 12 anchor pieces (including Shakespeare’s First Folio and a Civil War-era letter from Abraham Lincoln) that serve to thematically organize the splendid space.

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