CPAC is local to us, about 4 miles away, so we go there quite often. We have season tickets to the Broadway series and usually go about 20 times a year, often with our family or guests.
Plans for the construction of a community theater had been proposed in the Cerritos Towne Center since 1986, however, debate as to the size and influence of the theater vis-à-vis other venues in Southern California persisted. Fears primarily included having a large theater with few patrons in attendance.
The consultants, David Staples and Wally Russell of Theatre Projects Consultants from London, calmed fears and inspired city leaders with the details of Derngate Theatre in Northampton, England, where blocks of seats on rollers could be rearranged or removed completely, tailored to each performance. At the time, nothing like it existed in the United States.
Architects Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles were hired to design a similar marvel for Cerritos. Once worries were abated, it was decided that a large venue that could compete with the likes of the Long Beach Terrace Theater, Orange County Performing Arts Center, and the Los Angeles Music Center would be a better direction for the development of the community theater. In 1987, the layout plans included an auditorium with six distinct seating configurations, a 5,100-square-foot (470 m2) conference center and a 200-seat theater with its own sound and lighting systems. Construction began shortly on a city landmark that incorporates glass walls, pink limestone, colorful ceramic tiles and angular points and projections. A glass elevator tower topped with pyramids, thin spires and pennants completed the final façade. The interior includes a lobby featuring a curved grand staircase with etched glass, stylish fireplace, soaring ceiling and artwork. Though initially budgeted $17 million for the development, the final price tag came out to be over $60 million.
More than 6,000 visitors attended the open house tours upon the CCPA's completion. With a $4 million spending budget to attract performances in its inaugural season, the CCPA's sold out opening night welcomed crooner Frank Sinatra for three nights, helping establish the Cerritos Center as a premier venue in the Southland.
The city council realized that it would take several seasons to build up an audience to make the Cerritos Center self-supporting, so a $2 million subsidy or pump-priming fund was budgeted to augment the annual $3 million from ticket sales and pay operating costs and performers.