Welcome to The 2703, the brand new Hollywood Pantages Blog. One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How many seats are in the theatre?” The answer to that question and the name of our blog is 2,703. It’s that kind of insider knowledge we want to share with you! Have you ever wondered what happens at the Hollywood Pantages while you’re not here? We want to peak your curiosity, take you behind the scenes, into rehearsal rooms, and out into Hollywood. We want to give back to our audiences that fill The 2703 every performance.
Enjoy an ultimate Throw Back Thursday photo collection of our historic theatre. Most of the photos below were taken in the 1950’s. Imagine the people you would have seen walking through the doors at that time.
A safety curtain is a fire safety precaution used in large proscenium theaters. It is usually a heavy fiberglass or iron curtain located immediately behind the proscenium arch. Its purpose is to contain any fire to the stage to allow time for the audience to evacuate safely. These curtains were used in Europe for many years but it wasn’t until after December 30, 1903 that regulations regarding these curtains became much tighter in the United States.
On December 30, 1903 people were filing into the Iroquois Theater in Chicago. Women and children gathered to watch a matinee production of Mr. Bluebeard staring Eddie Foy. At the time the theater was only 5 weeks old and had been labeled fireproof beyond a doubt by designer Benjamin Marshal as well as city fire inspector Ed Laughlin. Once the audience members had taken their seats ushers were instructed to lock 27 of the theater’s 30 exits to prevent people from sneaking in.
During the second act of the show an arc light sparked catching the painted canvas backdrops on fire. Foy ran back on stage to try to calm people letting them know the fire curtain would be lowered. As the curtain was lowered it became caught and unable to reach the floor causing major panic. It was later discovered the curtain was made of paper and would not have helped even if it had come down completely. Ushers fled the theater first forgetting to unlock the 27 exit doors resulting in the death of 600 people.
Since that major tragedy fire curtains are now a staple in any large theater venue. The original fire curtain for the Hollywood Pantages Theatre was lost when it did its job after a spark from a music stand in the orchestra pit set it ablaze. It depicted the evolution of man, art and architecture.
The current Hollywood Pantages Theatre fire curtain is rarely lowered with the exception of the occasional photo shoot. It depicts a painting of billowing clouds and a flock of flying birds.
When I was 7 years old my parents took me to the local high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t really remember how good or bad that particular production was but I will never forget the way the music made me feel. My parents enjoy reminding me that as a child I never stopped talking but Fiddler on the Roof had me entranced. The show is still my favorite to this day.
Taking a child to a live theatrical performance for the first time can be tricky. Each child is very different in the way that they behave or interpret the world. To help make that first trip a little easier we have compiled some tips and tricks from our ushers and from our Associate General Manager and father of four, Jeff Loeb, to help your child enjoy the theatre as much as you do!
Pick the right show.
Do your research to ensure that the material is appropriate for the age of your child. Also be aware that many theaters, including the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, do not allow children under the age of 5. When asked what age he introduced his children to theatre, Loeb replied, “I started taking my kids at age 3 to different events. There is a ton of smaller theaters in LA that offer great family programming. Start small and learn what your kid can enjoy. ” You never know how a child might react to a darkened theatre. “During The Lion King, there were a lot of families that would hang out in the lobby and watch the show on the monitors because their children were afraid to be in the dark theatre.” one Pantages usher explains.
Pick the right seats
Aisle seats are always good when attending with a smaller child. Even if the seats are a little further away from the stage you will be less likely to have someone tall sitting directly in front of your child. The Pantages does have booster seats located at each entrance to the theatre. Be sure to grab one as soon as you get there because they will go fast for family friendly shows. Sitting on the aisle also allows easy access to the restrooms at intermission as well as the ability to get up during the performance if your child is not reacting well to the show. Loeb says his trick is to get seats near the back of the theatre or in the mezzanine where he knows he can make a quick escape if needed and then move closer over time.
Watch the Show Before You Go
Let your kids know what to expect. Is there a movie version of the show, or a book or YouTube clip? Get them excited about the characters they are going to see live. Listen to the cast album whenever they are in the car with you. When the song comes on during the show, it’s already a familiar favorite.
Theatre Etiquette and Kids
Getting your child to understand theatre etiquette can be tricky. Some adults still struggle with the concept. Loeb says, “We talk about what a good audience member is in terms of when to applaud (when you think the performance warrants), when you can talk and when it’s okay to take photos (never during the show).” Reminding children that it is something grown ups do is always a good way to get them to participate by making them feel included. “Something parents tend to forget is that those light up shoes, bracelets and other glow in the dark things can be very distracting.” says one Pantages usher. “Every time the child moves the shoes will flash and all of the ushers think it is a camera.”
Taking your children to the stage door to meet the characters they just saw performing live in front of them is always a good experience. Even shy children are delighted to be up close to someone they’ve just seen performing. It is a good time to remind them how different the theatre experience is from movies or television and makes the outing special. You might also walk away with an autograph.
When asked for any final thoughts Loeb said,”Kids may not love the show the way you do but they will love going to a special event with their parents or grandparents. My kids remember going to shows with their grandparents or cousins, not just with me. It’s a special event and if you let them know you think it is special, they will want to go with you again and again. I personally love when going to the theatre is a family tradition passed down to the next generation. It’s a wonderfully communal event to have 2,700 people all watch the same thing at the same time live.”
One of the most exciting things about Broadway theatre is the anticipation of that next big smash hit. We have seen it come from the plains of Africa with the Lion King. One time it came in the form of a green girl from Oz and most recently in the form of the ten-dollar Founding Father. But what about the musicals that came before?
We live in a world of movie reboots, re-do’s and sequels. Most get upset upon hearing the news that their favorite childhood film is being rebooted for today’s kids but what about Broadway revivals? If the recent box office record setting sales of the Broadway revival of Hello Dolly staring Bette Midler tells us anything, it’s that the Broadway community welcomes revivals with open arms.
This Broadway season was full of big revivals. What is it that keeps us coming back to these classic pieces again and again? Is it nostalgia or is it seeing a new version of an old favorite? There are too many spectacular revivals to mention so we took a look at the four that were nominated for the Best Revival category for the 2016 Tony Awards.
The Color Purple walked away with two Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. Not only is this show still running on Broadway but it has pulled in some of the best reviews from the country’s top papers. Below the cast of The Color Purple performs at the 2016 Tony Awards
“My spirit was profoundly moved” Los Angeles Times
“This is a show that pierces and shakes the soul!” Arts Desk
“A mircale on Broadway. A glory to behold!” New York Times
The most recent revival of Fiddler on the Roof did quite well for itself earning three Tony Award Nominations for Best Revival, Best Performance by a Lead Actor, and Best Choreography. The show also walked away with two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Actor and Outstanding Director. Below is the cast of Fiddler on the Roof at the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In 1964 She Loves Me made it’s New York debut. In 2016 the revival ended up with 8 Tony Nominations and walked away with Best Scenic Design. Television stars Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi lent their talent along side Lara Benanti to pump new life into this classic. Below the cast of She Loves me performs on the Today Show.
If any one revival was unique in its own way it was Deaf West’s Spring Awakening that combined the beauty and music of the 2006 production and added the element of American Sign Language to the coming of age tale. The show ended up with three Tony Nominations for Best Revival, Best Direction, and Best Lighting Design. Below see a collection of clips from the show.
What classic Broadway shows would you like to see revived and who would you cast in the lead roles?
On September 11, 2016, The Hollywood Pantages made history once again by hosting the live filming of the musical Newsies. The show will be aired as a Fathom event in movie theaters across the country next year. In addition to the excitement of a live filming nine original cast members from the Broadway production of Newsies lent their talent for One Night Only.
One of the world’s wealthiest men, Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was a Hollywood filmmaker, record-setting aviator and business mogul who once owned a big chunk of Las Vegas and controlled a major U.S. airline (TWA), among other ventures. Later in life, however, he became an eccentric recluse who feared germs and shunned personal hygiene. What does this have to do with the Hollywood Pantages? The infamous Hughes owned, worked and even resided in the theatre.
Most of what we know about his time as the owner of The Hollywood Pantages is rumor or speculation as he was known to be quite private or even recluse. What we do know is that Hughes purchased the theatre in 1949 and named it the RKO Pantages as part of his national chain of movie houses. He only retained the ‘Pantages’ name due to a contractual stipulation. Hughes had his office and own private screening room on the second floor of the Pantages building. This is still where our offices are located today and the screening room has been converted into our Group Sales office.
One of the amazing things about working in an 86 year old building is that there is no shortage of character. In many blueprints of the building sinks are pictured in nearly every office. Some of those plumbing hookups still exist to this day. I am writing this from what used to be a shower! During his time here, Hughes made sure that all of his employees had access to a sink so they could wash their hands multiple times a day. It was his belief that germs came from the outside world but not from him. It has been said that Hughes lacked in personal hygiene care because of this.
In addition to the many sinks, several showers are located in the basement storage areas of the theatre. There are stories about tunnels running under Hollywood Blvd between the theatre and the Broadway building where Hughes was rumored to have kept an apartment on the top floor. Some suggest he would have his female visitors use the tunnels instead of the street and require them to shower before entering his private residence or offices to ensure they were germ free.
The tunnel, if ever there were one, no longer exists. No evidence of a tunnel was found when Hollywood Blvd. was opened up to create the Metro red line in the early 90’s. Pantages employees suggest that the supposed tunnel was destroyed when Hughes sold the theatre in the 1950’s after RKO suffered turmoil and decline during his control.
To this day we continue to find interesting things left behind by the Hughes era. He had a large impact on the theatre as well as the rest of Hollywood. In 2004 a movie named The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes was released about his life. Many scenes for the film were shot right here at the Hollywood Pantages.
There is always an interesting collection of people working at the Hollywood Pantages at any given time. For this blog post we would like to introduce you to Halbert Hernandez from our Group Sales office. In 1992 Halbert was selected as an extra in a little Disney film called Newsies. We sat down with him to learn about his experience working on the film.
Question: How did you hear about the audition for the Newsies film and what was the audition process like?
Halbert Hernandez: I had a few friends that had already been cast in the movie as dancers and had heard that there was an open call for more news boys. They said you don’t have to dance which was good because I can’t dance. They just wanted to fill the screen with more news boys. So I went down to Universal the day of filming and met with Kenny Ortega. There were so many of us but they picked us based upon our look. It was really really quick. They didn’t ask us to dance or sing they just wanted a particular look.
Q: What was one of the most difficult things about being a Newsie?
Halbert: It actually wasn’t hard. It was so much fun. I was in my early 20’s and it was exciting to be on the lot filming something. It was neat to be surrounded by the dancers and a young Christian Bale. The days were long but it wasn’t hard because we were having fun and we were young.
Q: What was the most fun part of the movie filming?
Halbert: The most fun part was meeting Ann-Margret and working on the scene where her character sings to the news boys in the theatre. I was sitting up in the balcony on I think stage right. If you pause the movie you can see me. It was cool because she was singing to us as well as the boys on the floor but I remember she made eye contact with me. I also loved that scene because we had to run out of the theatre because the police were coming so people were climbing down the balcony and running out of the theatre. I didn’t climb down the balcony. I ran out the back door. It was exciting to meet her to see her. We were all told she had to be called Ann-Margret not Ann not Margret. Don’t talk to her unless she talks to you.
Q: Did you get to speak with Ann-Margret?
Halbert: She talked to my group in the balcony. She kind of looked up and waved at us and said, “how are you guys doing?” and we said, “we’re doing great!” I also remember one very cool thing was watching her come onto the set in a Rolls Royce driven by her husband. She was wearing a turban on her head and a beautiful coat and she stepped right out of the car and directly into her trailer. Then three hours later she came into the theatre as that character with the red hair and the red dress and I was like oh wow. It was neat to see that transformation.
Q: What is your favorite memory from the production?
Halbert: I think just being able to work with my friends. Someone I am still in touch with is Kevin Stea who is an incredible dancer that went on to work with Madonna. We were all pretty close so that’s what made it fun.
Q: How do you feel the stage production compares to the movie?
Halbert: I think the stage production is great. I think it is wonderful. They did a great job of taking the film and adapting it to the stage. There is a lot of energy and dancing just like the movie.
Q: Did it bring back any memories for you?
Halbert: Yes it did. Hearing the music really took me back to the Universal lot. After seeing it at the Pantages I went back and watched the movie. Seeing myself in a few shots I couldn’t believe how young I was.
Q: Do you have any other thoughts about your experience?
Halbert: It was a really great time. I am thankful to have the memories and I am thankful to Kenny Ortega for giving me the opportunity to be a Newsie. It’s nice to see it has taken a life of its own and gone from film to stage and now they are filming the stage production so people can see it in theatres when it’s released.
Picture this. You are on a rooftop in the middle of Hollywood lounging in a comfy chair with snacks in your lap, a drink in your hand and your favorite movie is playing on a big screen. What could be better? We take our movie experiences very seriously here in Hollywood and now the experience is on a whole other level, literally the top level.
The Montálban theatre is getting ready for its second season as a part of the Rooftop Film Club. Taking full advantage of the Montálban rooftop’s beautiful city view, RFC promises to offer some of the most unique and incredible movie-going opportunities for film lovers. You don’t even need to bring your own blanket or camping chair—Rooftop Film Club provides you with your very own comfy lawn chair, as well as blankets on request for the ultimate cozy experience. And instead of listening to the movie over loudspeakers, you’ll get a set of wireless headphones so you never have to miss a word.
Los Angeles is not the only city partying it up on the rooftops. If you happen to be in London or New York check out their Rooftop Film Clubs as well. For other amazing photos head over to Instagram and look for their hashtag #rooftopfilmclub for more amazing photos.
To learn more about the Rooftop Film Club experience CLICK HERE
Hollywood is constantly changing as we mentioned in last weeks post about all of the construction happening in our neighborhood. However, there are still some good old classics in the area that really make Hollywood a special place. Located just around the corner from the Hollywood Pantages is The Montalbán Theatre.
Built in 1926, the theatre’s architect was Myron Hunt, whose work included the Rose Bowl, CalTech, the Ambassador Hotel, and many other Southern California landmarks. Named The Wilkes Brothers Vine Street Theatre in honor of its builders, it was the first legitimate Broadway-style theatre in Hollywood. Its inaugural presentation in 1927 was an acclaimed production of Theodore Dreiser’s “an American Tragedy.”
The Montalbán and The Hollywood Pantages have more in common than a zip code. In the early 1930’s Howard Hughes acquired the theatre to convert it into the first fully-automated cinema and renamed it the Mirror. The Hollywood Pantages too was owned by Hughes in the early 1950’s.
By 1935 Hughes was out of the movie business and sold the theatre to CBS Radio. Durring this time local station KNX hosted its now famous Lux Radio Theatre. For many years legendary producer/director Cecil B. DeMille was the producer and host.
As the years went on the focus turned to television. CBS sold the theatre to Huntington Hartford, heir to the A&P grocery store fortune. He spent $750,000 to remodel and restore the theatre into a legitimate stage venue.
In 1964 James Doolittle, who at the time was running the Greek Theatre purchased the theatre. Over the next 20 years Doolittle added to the reputation of the theatre with his smart productions.
Interiors of The Montalbán Theatre.
When the Doolittle era came to an end, UCLA took over, but, after several years, the theatre went dark until Ricardo Montalbán stepped in. He envisioned having a physical presence in Hollywood that would provide inspiration and training for emerging artists in the Hispanic community and thus enable them to mainstream into the performing arts and the broader entertainment industry. The theatre was a perfect home base for implementing that vision, and the Hispanic community, which respected his talent, success and his inclusive politics, mobilized to support the acquisition of the theatre. In 1999 a generous and anonymous donation enabled the Ricardo Montalbán Foundation to buy the building, and the Foundation reopened the theatre in May 2004 as The Montalbán.
Today the Montalbán Theatre is one of the few remaining mid-sized and fully-equipped proscenium theatres in Los Angeles and is known for its excellent sight lines and acoustics. The Theatre and the Foundation are partnered with community performing arts groups such as the Harmony Project, the Lula Washington Dance Company, the Tierra Blanca Arts Center and the UDLA. The Montalbán has also hosted a variety of professional productions including Selena, Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell, The Who’s Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar (with the original cast), A Night Without Monty Python (with Eric Idle and other stars), a closed-circuit broadcast of the World Cup, an evening with comedian Billy Connolly, and most recently a two-week run of John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown.
For more information about The Montalbán theatre and their events CLICK HERE.
Blog Source: http://www.themontalban.com/history-of-our-theater/
If you have been to the Hollywood Pantages lately to see a show there are a few things you may have noticed about the neighborhood. The first thing that probably comes to mind is what the heck is the deal with all of this construction??? Well the neighborhood is changing my friends and we think it’s gonna be great! Check out some of the projects happening around the theatre.
The Argyle Hotel
Construction is well underway on the Argyle Hotel, a 16-story, 220-room hotel at 1800 N Argyle Ave in Hollywood, not far from the Hollywood Pantages. This is one of three high-rise projects underway or planned at the intersection of Argyle Avenue and Yucca Street.
Designed by San Diego’s ACRM Architects, the 184-foot tower will have a swimming pool on the fifth level and parking for 93 cars on four levels, three above grade and one below. The hotel also will have a restaurant, meeting space and banquet facilities.
Just across the street from the Argyle Hotel construction, work begins on an 18-story tower with 114 “luxury” apartments immediately next to the iconic Capitol Records building and just north of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. In addition to the apartments, its project will include a fifth-floor terrace with a dog run, “oversized” TV, and catering kitchen. It will also include underground parking, according to a building permit filed with the city.
Dream Hotel Hollywood
Hollywood is booming, and the new Dream Hotel, nearing completion on Selma Ave near Cahuenga, hopes to cash in on its popularity. The 179-room hotel features a two-story lobby and a rooftop complete with a swimming pool and a late-night venue that will have a retractable roof. The property will also have a public alley that pedestrians can use to travel to nightclubs in the area as well as local restaurants near the hotel.
Eastown Phase II
The first phase of Eastown, completed on the opposite side of Hollywood Boulevard in 2014, includes four low-rise buildings containing 535 apartments and over 70,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and restaurants.
The project, which is rising from a 3.18-acre site at 6200 Hollywood Boulevard, will consist of a series of seven-story buildings featuring 507 apartments and approximately 60,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space.
Shake Shack has confirmed that it’s opening a location in the veritable heart of Hollywood at the new Eastown mixed-use complex. To see where this Shake Shack is going to get situated, head over to the Eastown complex’s own website. Right there in the retailer section (which already includes a Dunkin’ Donuts) you’ll see some 5,000 square feet marked off for a Shake Shack, which goes further to say an arrival could come as soon as this fall.