All About the Belasco

posted by DonSolosan on February 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

LOS ANGELES, CA — Belasco Theater Tour & History Presentation set for Saturday, 2/26/11

1050 S. Hill Street, Los Angeles (btwn Olympic & 11th) Parking adjacent
10:30 AM, doors open at 10
$5 — LAHTF Members Free (go to http://www.lahtf.org/support.html to join)

The LAHTF All About series returns to The Belasco fresh from its multi-million dollar conversion into downtown’s premiere entertainment destination. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of this amazing transformation and be among the first to see the new Belasco Theater. A powerpoint history presentation will tell the Belasco story. Don’t miss this chance to preview a new entertainment legend in the making.

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is a non-profit tax exempt all volunteer organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, restoring and sustaining the operation of Los Angeles' great historic theatres.

ABOUT THE BELASCO: www.thebelasco.com
The historic Belasco Theater is Downtown Los Angeles' next premier destination designed to be used for a wide range of events – from theatrical productions, live performances/concerts, special events, corporate receptions to the BELASCO Nightclub/Bar/Lounge. The 40,000+ square foot space encompasses pure elegance and beauty. With most of its original 1926 architecture and design, the newly restored and adaptively re-used Belasco Theater welcomes you to a world-class experience and high-energy nightlife.

The Belasco Theater is a multi-purpose event entertainment complex with a full spectrum of sophisticated equipment offering an extensive, state of the art collection of audio visual technology for superb quality and optimum efficiency to bring all aspects of production under one roof. The venue offers a variety of floor plans that can easily accommodate multiple types of events and programs and is sure to inspire all the patrons who visit.

Masked in tradition, the Belasco is ushering in a new standard for the entertainment experience. With a friendly and knowledgeable staff, Belasco is redefining the next level of entertainment excellence. The Belasco Theater can be specifically tailored to any group’s needs. Special events and corporate receptions can be booked at any time. The Belasco offers a full range of event services from food and beverage packages to audio-visual products, décor, and a diverse variety of entertainment options. Custom proposals can be designed upon request. For more information visit: www.thebelasco.com.

(Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for providing the photo.)

Comments (14)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on February 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

I hope that at least one CT member is able to attend and get some additional details about the Belasco’s use as a cinema and what its current film capabilities are and post them to the Belasco’s page here on CT. As I recall, the inclusion of the Belasco was a matter of doubt for a while until some members were able to get and post at least a few verified details.

raysson
raysson on February 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

WOW!!! What a marvel of architecture.

socal09
socal09 on February 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I would say its current film capabilities are zero. It doesn’t seem like it was ever a cinema, unlike the Mayan next door. Perhaps it shouldn’t be listed on CT.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on February 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Socal09: Take a look at the comments on both the pages for the Mayan /theaters/16/ and the Belasco /theaters/27684/ and you can see that whereas the Mayan was one of the earliest theaters to have an entry here on CT, the Belasco did not get a page until many thousands of theaters later, simply because it took a long time to find some real evidence of its use as a cinema. This was finally found though the use was apparently limited to a very brief period of about two years around 1950 and the films were apparently shown in addition to (and no doubt compatible with) the risqué burlesque shows of the period. Also, another contributor verified the existence of a projection booth. So, it does qualify, however marginally.

The new Belasco website says the facility has a full range of audio/video technology, but my hunch is that if it can show films, they probably would have to be digital projections from DVDs or other digital media. That is why I am hoping a CT member will take the tour and inquire of the presenter about the Belasco’s cinema history, and what, if anything, it is currently capable of presenting in terms of movies.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 22, 2011 at 8:58 am

Yes, the Belasco does have a projection booth, which should put that question to rest. I haven’t bothered to go inside it, but my guess is that there is no film equipment left. Last week they were working on some video projectors that apparently project special effects on the ceiling.

The set-up reminds me of The Music Box and the Wiltern: seats in the balcony, main floor leveled with a bar in the back…

I’ll try to remember to get the info you’re interested in at the All About (usually I’m running around with my camera, shooting the event and not really listening to the presentation).

monika
monika on February 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I’ll (most very likely) be there! If going anyone sees a short girl carrying a film camera please say hi to me =)

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on February 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

About three-plus years ago, the Mayor of L.A. launched a huge effort to clean up the terribly rundown Broadway area and to encourage the restoration of the many closed theaters.

It’s so good to see that the Belasco, Palace and Million Dollar have been saved. what is happening to the Los Angeles Theatre?

If you are ever visiting L.A., CT members should NOT miss the interesting Saturday tours of the numerous open/closed theaters, offered for about $5 by the L.A. Conservancy!!!!!!!

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

There’s going to be a big celebration on Broadway this year as two theaters turned 100 in 2010, and the Palace turns 100 this June (the day of the Conservancy’s screening of “Sunset Boulevard,” in fact).

The Million Dollar holds frequent events, but still needs quite a bit of restoration work.

The Palace and Los Angeles are both available to rent for film shoots and events, and also need to be restored. The family that owns those two theaters wanted the city to build a parking structure near the Los Angeles, which they would control, and in return they would restore the theater. That deal fell through.

The only other theater in the area that rivals the Belasco in terms of the restoration work done, is the Orpheum, which will celebrate its 85th birthday this year.

I also recommend the LA Conservancy’s walking tours, which are $5 for members, $10 for the general public. They’re a great way to get familiar with the Broadway theaters, and to get a glimpse inside a few of them. For the full treatment, however, you need to attend one of our “All About” events…

monika
monika on February 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The 2011 schedule for Last Remaining Seats can be seen at the link below.
http://www.laconservancy.org/remaining/index.php4
I can’t wait for “Sunset Blvd.”

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on February 25, 2011 at 9:09 am

Don, thanks for the info-to-know. Ah yes… the Last Remaining Seats… what an awesome event to attend at any one of these historic theaters.

This must-see event title reminds me of one of my favorite theater books “The Best Remaining Seats”.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

Simon, my understanding is that the Last Remaining Seats series name was indeed inspired by Best Remaining Seats…

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

According to the presentation prepared by Ed Kelsey, the Belasco switched to film in 1932. He has an ad for the German film “Maedchen in Uniform” playing there (even though the title “Schoolgirls in Uniform” has undertones of exploitation, it isn’t. “Maedchen” in a serious film that offended the Nazis and they attempted to destroy it. Fortunately, they failed). It doesn’t seem to have stuck with films for long. Eventually they came back when the theater became a burlesque house, alternating with the live acts.

No one knows if the projection booth was added, or a part of the original design. It might have been a follow-spot platform. The fact that the design is so well integrated suggests that it’s original; the half-assed access ladder at the top of the mezzanine level suggests that it was added later. Nowadays it’s used as an office.

There is no film projection equipment remaining in the building. They recently held the premiere of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar documentary “On The Shoulders Of Giants.” It was presented digitally on a rented screen, with folding chairs on the main floor, but the owners plan to buy a screen in the future.

There are eight huge video projectors mounted on either side of the proscenium; these will be used to project special effects on the ceiling.

Monika, I was looking for you to say hello, but there were a lot of women with cameras at the event today and I decided to stop pestering them. Hope you were there and had fun. We had a great turnout.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on February 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Thanks so much, Don.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

What a showplace.Thanks Don.

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