A Brief History

The Beverly Hills Playhouse Acting School has been in its current location on Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills since 1978, though its founder Milton Katselas began his teaching career in the 1960s in New York City, and continued in Los Angeles for several years before settling at our current headquarters building. Milton’s talent for teaching led to a surge in enrollments past what he could handle personally, and through the 1980s and 1990s, the program expanded to include multiple levels of classes and even an entire additional location at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz, where Milton also had his painting studio. Some of our teachers over the years have included Bill Howey, Al Mancini, Jocelyn Jones, Gary Imhoff, Allen Williams, Richard Lawson, Gary Grossman, Jeffrey Tambor, Terry Jastrow, Chick Vennera, Gloria Gifford, Robert Brownstein, Mark Gantt, Michael Yavnieli, Tania Gonzalez, Layla Vatan, Michael Petted, and several others as well in both New York City and San Francisco.

Though the BHP has always been known primarily one of the city’s prominent acting studios, we’ve also collaborated with production entities to produce over 100 plays in the last thirty years — these collaborations have been with Camelot Artists, which became the Katselas Theatre Company and then the Skylight Theatre Company, which still runs in its own theatre complex in Los Feliz. Between 2019-2023 The BHP sponsored almost a dozen productions under the banner of Crimson Square Theatre Company at our own theatre on Robertson Blvd., and currently we simply produce theatre under our own name, The Beverly Hills Playhouse.

Upon Milton’s death in 2008, he bequeathed majority ownership of BHP to Allen Barton, who was a longtime student and close associate of Milton’s — he had been Executive Director for five years at the time of Milton’s passing, and his teaching partner in the Advanced level classes. Allen’s journey with Milton is a story that comprises the first section of Allen’s book THE OASIS OF INSANITY, which is broken into about twenty chapters that include vivid moments in their relationship, and in BHP history between 1990 and 2010.

The BHP has been under Allen’s direction since 2008. As is the case with almost all theatres and acting schools in 2020, the BHP was rocked by the COVID pandemic and the shutdowns that had such a negative impact across the board, but particularly for the theatre community. Overnight, our program, which at the time was comprised of fully enrolled classes in LA, San Francisco and New York — was totally wiped out. Allen and a dogged collection of close friends and dedicated BHP staff fought throughout to maintain its connection with our students, slowly getting back into the theatre and building the program back from scratch, on the foundation of Milton’s approach to acting training.

It’s been a long and winding road, but we are grateful and happy to be here, and hopefully to be of service to you in your pursuit of an acting career.