Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Los Angeles Theatre or “The Theatre Unusual”

The Los Angeles Theatre proudly featured "Romeo & Juliet" for one night only.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough (thanks to Cinespia and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation) to visit the Los Angeles Theatre, a movie palace built in 1931 on Broadway in the Los Angeles Theatre District. It was the last of its kind to be built. The reason for my good fortune was a charity event to help fund the care for this theatre, as well as others, in the Los Angeles area.  The event featured a special screening of Baz Luhrmann's rendition of the Bard’s Romeo & Juliet.

People passing by might not notice this gem nestled among businesses on Broadway.  No one would even begin to guess the wonder and glamour that awaits behind doors of what might look like to many on most days as an old theatre. Behind those doors, however are four stories of French Rococo and bold, glistening chandeliers.  The foyer alone is enough to make you lose your breath.

The Los Angeles Theatre foyer stairway lead up to a bar
and the entrance to the mezzanine seating.

The theatre's architect, S. Charles Lee, was known for his Art Deco inspired designs.  He seamlessly combined the styles of  French Rococo seen in the Los Angeles Theatre and the Spanish-Romanesque look of the Tower Theatre (also on Broadway).  In 1938, he lent his mastery to the Bruin Theatre in Westwood Village.

The theatre itself takes up about two floors worth of space with balconies fit for queens. The lower level includes a ballroom, a former children’s playroom, and bathrooms that make you feel like royalty.

The Children’s Playroom - designed to look like a circus, with ceilings
fashioned to look like the interior of a tent -
 served as a makeshift photo booth for the evening’s patrons.

One of the balconies, to the left of the stage,
with its imposing statues staring down at patrons.

The opulent curtain that hides the twentieth century screen from sight.

John Wyatt, the founder of Cinespia, came out onto the stage before the screening to thank the audience for contributing to the arts. He talked about supporting the memories of those who dared to dream before us, including Charlie Chaplin, whose film "City Lights" was shown at the Los Angeles Theatre's Opening Night.  

Photos and Text by Roxanne Castillo, Guest Contributor

is a native Angeleno, freelance writer, and law student. Her writing focuses on exploring LA and marketing for small businesses. You can see more of her work on Opentimez and Squidoo.

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