Los Angeles Theatre

615 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Showing 151 - 175 of 289 comments

rfwebber on May 31, 2007 at 7:11 am

The State is leased to a Hispanic church, which doesn’t want it to be used for other anything else, period. The situation at the UA is more interesting. That theatre is owned by the Gene Scott ministries. When Dr. Scott first acquired the State he not only spent a lot of money restoring it but seemed to be open to the idea of it being used for other purposes when not needed for church services (Sunday mornings), much like the old Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. In fact, Last Remaining Seats had a couple of screenings at the theatre with his blessing and he allowed the Conservancy’s Saturday morning tours in there on a regular basis. However, one always felt that he was a little nervous about having “strangers” in his building. His church attendees were carefully screened (you couldn’t attend services without making a reservation in advance) and when the Conservancy tour groups came in they were always accompanied by one or more church security people and closely watched throughout their visit. So at a certain point he informed the Conservancy that no more LRS or other outside events would be permitted at the theatre. The tours continued, however, until 9/11, at which point his apparent nervousness about possible “terrorist” plots prompted him to terminate those as well. Dr. Scott died recently and the church is now in the hands of his widow, who seems even less inclined to allow outside groups in. (“This is a church, not a tourist attraction!”) So it appears that the beautifully restored UA will, for the foreseeable future, be off-limits to anyone except the church parishioners.

shatter on May 31, 2007 at 5:31 am

<<They’ve been approached, but no dice. (Same situation at the United Artists.) posted by Richard W on May 12, 2007 at 10:50am >>

I would love to see films at these locations as well. Just out of curiosity, Richard W, can you divulge what their rationale is? You’d think the owners would be interested in maintaining the public’s interest (as well as pocketing the dough they’d receive for something like this) in these landmarks, not shun the curious.

shatter on May 31, 2007 at 5:20 am

I was there last night to view “Roman Holiday” as part of the Last Remaining Seats series. I had never been to the theater and wow — I agree with all the above comments. I’ve never seen such detail, such craftsmanship in a theater. The three levels of seating, the enormous rooms downstairs that weren’t even utilized (the ones separating the bathrooms; the “lounge”, what looked like a kitchen). What a labyrinth. Security wasn’t tight and we were tempted to sneak up the various stairwells but decided not to. An amazing place. I hope they replace the worn carpet and continue the restoration. Wouldn’t it be great to see movies here again all the time? The audience sure appreciated it.

kencmcintyre on May 26, 2007 at 8:16 am

An article in today’s LA Times discussed a proposal to turn Broadway between 2nd and 9th into a pedestrian mall with a busway. This had been proposed in 1977, but nothing came of it. The general manager of the Los Angeles theater was quoted favorably on the issue. I recall that this was done on Chestnut Street in the 80s with limited success. I think that street is once again open to traffic.

kencmcintyre on May 18, 2007 at 8:54 am

Here is a circa 1940s photo from the USC archive:

kencmcintyre on May 14, 2007 at 5:39 am

The Culver is across the street from the old MGM studio.

rroudebush on May 14, 2007 at 4:31 am

The “old drive-in in Culver City” mentioned above was the Studio Drive-In where Jefferson and Sepulveda come together. Unfortunately, it has been demolished. A housing project is on the site.

I was in downtown Culver City yesterday and saw that the Old Culver Theater, a wonderful old Art Deco movie house, has been turned into the Kirk Douglas Theater, a legitimate theater. It’s near the Culver Hotel, where the Munchkins were put up during the filming of Wizard of Oz – it’s the tallest building in town. You can’t miss it.

rfwebber on May 12, 2007 at 7:50 am

They’ve been approached, but no dice. (Same situation at the United Artists.) I’m quite sure that the theatre is still equipped to show movies. The Million Dollar has been off-limits because of a hazard from loose ceiling plaster caused by the last earthquake.

kencmcintyre on May 11, 2007 at 2:17 pm

I will bet that if you offer the Iglesia people at the State some amount of money, they will set up a big movie screen on the stage, assuming the old one is not there anymore. I would pay to see a movie there, or in the Million Dollar.

rfwebber on May 11, 2007 at 2:02 pm

I agree. The first LRS, 20 years ago, was intended to be a one-time event which would spotlight a number of the old, neglected theatres on Broadway and attempt to recreate the early movie palace experience. Little did those of us involved in planning that first series know that it would take off and become the blockbuster (and major money-maker for the Conservancy) that it is today. In the early years, the Los Angeles and the Orpheum were used, of course, but also, the State, the United Artists, the Million Dollar and the Palace downtown and theatres in other parts of town, such as the Westlake, the Wiltern, the South Pasadena Rialto and even an old drive-in in Culver City. For various reasons, including the unavailabilty of some of these venues, size requirements and probably some political and sponsorship considerations, the current planners seem to have moved away from the original intent; spotlighting lesser-known and neglected theatres seems to be no longer the main thrust. (The Alex is hardly neglected and why the Ford was chosen truly mystifies me — probably for political reasons!)

kencmcintyre on May 11, 2007 at 10:05 am

I always appreciate the program, so I don’t want to appear to be grousing. However, it seems like the theater rotation was better when I started attending a decade ago. I suppose it’s not possible to screen films in some of the other Broadway theaters, like the State for example, but I’m not too motivated to see a movie at the Ford that I can watch on AMC. The idea is to see the movies in the original settings. Just an opinion.

rfwebber on May 11, 2007 at 8:28 am

Don’t miss the rare opportunity to see the interior of this theatre in all its lit-up glory by attending the L.A. Conservancy’s annual “Last Remaining Seats” film and live entertainment series. This year, in addition to 2 events at the Los Angeles, they are featuring the L.A. Orpheum, the Alex in Glendale and the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. The dates are May 23 (Orpheum), May 30 (Los Angeles), June 6 (Orpheum), June 13 (Los Angeles), June 20 (Ford) and June 27 (Alex). For program and other information, visit http://www.laconservancy.org .

kencmcintyre on May 11, 2007 at 5:56 am

Use the link that Richard W posted in April.

kencmcintyre on May 11, 2007 at 5:55 am

The CA state library website has hundreds of pictures of this theater, mostly interior and mostly from the thirties. No way to post them all here, but it’s worth a look.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Ken, that 1931 photo must have been taken on the opening night. City Lights, indeed!

kencmcintyre on May 10, 2007 at 3:35 pm

This is an interesting photo from 1931. Hopefully it hasn’t already been posted:

AdoraKiaOra on May 3, 2007 at 1:37 am

The auditorium of this great looking theatre is beautiful. Not too large a capacity either for transformation to a full scale programed theatre. My god, i love that auditorium so much. THe side boxes are fantastic.

rfwebber on April 8, 2007 at 1:42 pm

There is a treasure trove of pictures of the Los Angeles Theatre, interior and exterior, ca 1931, at the California State Library web site. I counted over 130 pictures available for viewing and/or download there. (There is also a huge cache of pictures of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre plus a handful of shots of other L.A. area theatres at the same web site.) Enjoy.


rroudebush on April 6, 2007 at 4:51 am

We were told, when the cast of Manon Lescaut was given a tour of the theater, that the wigs of the French nobility on the curtain were made of real human hair.

You can see an excerpt of the Manon Lescaut on YouTube. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show much of the interior of the theater, but it does give you an idea of what a production looked like on stage (I am on the far left – stage right – as “The Sergeant” – and am barely audible!).


kencmcintyre on April 5, 2007 at 2:49 pm

I moved to LA in 1984 and could barely breath when I was looking for a job downtown. The situation has improved considerably.

dennis906 on April 5, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Beautiful smogless sky over Los Angeles.

rfwebber on April 1, 2007 at 9:39 am

I just watched the 2006 movie “The Prestige.” There are several shots inside the Los Angeles Theatre, standing in for a 19th century London theatre. The famous “3-dimensional” fire curtain, depicting costumed French nobility in the countryside, is clearly visible at times and is actually raised at one point. (There is also an exterior shot of the Tower Theatre, S. Charles Lee’s other downtown L.A. masterpiece, with the name changed to “Pantages.” There are some other theatre interior shots in the movie, which I was unable to identify.)

kencmcintyre on March 3, 2007 at 4:44 pm

There is another batch of interior photos on this page:

rroudebush on February 6, 2007 at 8:00 am

I was in the cast of the opera performance mentioned above â€" I had a small part in Manon Lescaut as “Le sergent” and sang in the chorus. When I auditioned for the company I didn’t know where we would be performing, but was thrilled when I learned that it would be at the fabulous old Los Angeles Theater, since I remembered the theater vividly from my childhood.

In the mid ‘50s, my mother used to take my brother and me downtown from Culver City, and we’d go to a movie at the stunning Los Angeles Theater, and have lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria across the street (still operating!). I remember seeing “The Robe” and “Demetrius and the Gladiators” there, and being terribly impressed by the over-the-top performances of actor Jay Robinson as Caligula in both movies (I also remember seeing Bette Davis in “The Virgin Queen,” which Jay Robinson was also in â€" more about Mr. Robinson later!).

Much later, in my adulthood, I also met the architect, S. Charles Lee, at a showing of the movie “The Seven Year Itch” at the theater. I was introduced briefly to Mr. Lee, a spry and friendly old man, who was doing what the rest of us were doing, standing just inside the front door, watching the amazed faces of people as they came in and saw the lobby for the first time!

And then, decades later, I was able to perform in the theater myself. The pseudo-French architecture of the theater suited Manon Lescaut perfectly, I think, though the theater was really too large for our purposes. One of the other cast members, Greg Iriarte, was a docent for the L.A. Conservancy, and I imagine that this is how the venue was obtained. Greg would have preferred the Orpheum as a performing venue, and it’s true that the Los Angeles had a very shallow stage and inadequate dressing rooms for a cast the size of ours. But I was thrilled to be at the Los Angeles, and it was a gift that it had dressing rooms at all, thanks to the fact that stage performances had taken place between movies in the early years. The dressing rooms had been furnished with modern mirrors and lights, but there were no tables or chairs, so we brought our own. One of the larger rooms, obviously designed for “the star,” had original mouldings and “French” tracework, and it was easy to imagine it as it might have been.

The acoustics of the theater seemed fine to me, and I didn’t feel I had to force at all in my solos (and, of course, we sang unamplified â€" even the spoken dialogue was unamplified), but some people remarked that the men’s voices traveled better than the women’s, so perhaps there was a lack of upper resonance in the theater. Though the place looked shabby in the strong rehearsal lights, in performance, when the auditorium was evocatively lit, the place looked overwhelmingly festive and gorgeous.

At our six performances we had an audience of about 600 people a night, a surprising turnout for an unknown/forgotten opera. However, it was obvious that the theater itself was bringing them in, because when we put on our next production, Verdi’s second opera, Un Giorno di Regno, at the Palace across the street (having lost the use of the Los Angeles Theater for undisclosed reasons), hardly anyone attended its six performances, and the company was forced to cancel the rest of the season. The Palace is the right size for an opera house, in my opinion, being about the size of a normal European opera house, e.g. the Stuttgart Opera, and it has better acoustics than the Los Angeles. But the Palace has nothing of that latter theater’s magnificence and glamour, faded though it may be.

Back to actor Jay Robinson: Southern California suffered some severe storms earlier in 2006, and the basement of the Los Angeles Theater was flooded, ruining the parquet flooring in the downstairs ballroom, and causing a dank, musty smell. During those same storms, out in the San Fernando Valley a tree fell on the parked car of a friend of mine. The tree happened to be on the property of Jay Robinson in Sherman Oaks (on Milbank at Woodman) near where I live, and because of this unfortunate circumstance, I got to meet him during the period of my performances of the Los Angeles Theater, where a half century before I had seen his (filmed) performances that had so impressed me. In fact, I found out his birthday on the internet, and took a card over to him and got invited in for a nice chat and a look at his movie and stage memorabilia. This icon from my childhood has lived a block away from me for the last 30 years! I felt that my experience with the Los Angeles Theater had gone full circle.

Rickard Roudebush