The name Matt Chait is synonymous with LA’s Theatre Row, a term he coined in 1992. At the time, he had been operating The Complex for two years. Shuttered since the end of 2022, The Complex was a collection of five small theaters housed in a 1928 building at 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard. Theatre Row, which now extends from Hudson to Vine, has shrunk in recent years; the loss of The Complex represented about a quarter of theaters at the time.
The saga of The Complex was related in part in this Buzz story from 2022. And it turns out that the story of The Complex did not end with the closing of its doors. While the physical location has been sold, the producing entity continues on. And this weekend, The Complex and Chait premiere a Chait-written and -funded play, A Family Business.
Chait relates that in 2022, “a developer came along and wanted to pay a crazy amount of money for the building. We didn’t know anything about it. He bought not only our building, but the building to the east of us and the warehouse to the south of the building. He also had his eye on a big lot around the corner, which he couldn’t get. I think that threw his plans off a little bit.”
The building, an example of “streetcar architecture,” is now under consideration as a Historic-Cultural Monument by the city of Los Angeles. It’s unknown if such a designation might allow the original Complex building to one day again hold theaters. But in the meantime, Chait isn’t letting the grass grow.
Chait’s A Family Business is the story of Rose Klein, a budding, talented chef, and her boyfriend Julio, Rose’s mother Harmony, a spiritual psychologist, and her father Seth, an unrepentant child of the sixties and Julio’s parents: Max Gold, the feared tyrannical head of Gold Studios, and trophy wife Elena. Rose and Julio have brought them together in the hope that this will be a night to remember. It will be; although not in a way that any of them could have imagined.
The cast includes Eric Stanton Betts, Alli Brown, Michelle Jasso, Lindsay G. Merrithew, Bruce Nozick and Julie Pearl. Brian Shnipper directs for The Complex.
Chait relates, “We did a Zoom reading of it three years ago during the pandemic. It has gone through a fair amount since then. I actively seek out suggestions and everything that I hear, I take very seriously, not necessarily to do what the person’s telling me to do, just to learn if something didn’t sit well with them. I look at that and think, well, there must be something there.”
The world premiere of A Family Business opens tonight and runs through Dec. 31 at the Hudson MainStage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. Dark on December 22, 23, 24. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm., Sundays at 3:00pm. Tickets are $35 and are available here.