Category Archives: Behind The Scenes

Amos Oliver III

When we found out that one of our very own ushers had been cast in Hairspray Live we couldn’t have been more proud! On December 7, 2016 Amos Oliver III and the rest of the cast of Hairspray Live performed in front of an audience of 9 million plus. After the whole exciting adventure, Amos took some time to chat with us about his experience.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? 

I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. I went to College at The Boston Conservatory as well as the American Musical and Dramatic Academy-LA

How did you catch the musical theatre bug?

I’ve always been into performing. I’ve always loved being onstage and being able to play someone other than myself. It wasn’t until I was attending The Boston Conservatory until I really understood how much I loved musical theater.

How did you find out about Hairspray Live auditions?

I found out about Hairspray LIVE auditions through my agent. (Go 2 Talent Agency)

What was the audition process like?

The process was a lot of fun. We first learned some of the choreography to “Run and Tell That” and we auditioned it. We then got called back did some scene work and some singing and then we danced again!

What was the first thing you did when you found out you had gotten the part?

The first thing I did when I found out I was cast, was run around the living room of my apartment and scream!! Then once I calmed down I called my mom!

Did you know that your fellow ushers had put together a watch party to cheer you on?

I certainly did know that my fellow ushers threw a party! I thought it was incredibly sweet and I wish I could’ve been there to share such an amazing experience/moment with them!

(See the Facebook Live video of the ushers cheering on Amos)

Tell us how you prepared for this live event. What were rehearsals like?

Well I had been training for so long for something like that so all of my schooling and education really prepared me for that. I knew in my heart that this had always been a dream of, mine and that’s really what helped me stay focused and ready at all times. At the start of rehearsals, we rehearsed 8 hours a day, Mon-Friday! And once the event got closer than we began staying longer and working longer weeks!

On the day of the live event, what was the atmosphere on set?

OMG!!! Everyone was so excited and ready to change the world!! Everyone was so positive and so supportive and they were having such a great time!

What was it like working on set with a live audience?

Working on set was actually really fun for me. We were performing for TV, but we also had the energy of the live audience which really enhanced our level of performance.

What amazing memories will you be taking away from this experience? Any particular moments stand out to you?

Every single second of this experience will be a memory that I take away! NOTHING about this I could ever forget! Every moment was priceless and surreal.

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What’s next for you? What would be the ultimate dream job/role?

I am not quite sure what’s next for me, but I know it will be something incredible! The dream role job after doing Hairspray LIVE, would be performing it on Broadway!

What advice would you have for others pursuing this path?

No matter what anyone says, you can do whatever you put your mind to. You control your own destiny. I believe in that wholeheartedly.

You can catch Amos in Hairspray Live again December 26th at 8pm only on NBC!

 

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story World Premiere

On Saturday, December 10, the Hollywood Pantages played host to the world premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  It is a rare occasion to turn this theatrical house into a state of the art movie house but Disney did just that and to stunning effect.  With a seventy foot screen, a digital laser projector and over 300 speakers, the historic Hollywood Pantages roared back to life and restored its movie house glory.

Hollywood Pantages General Manager Jeff Loeb and Daughter Cady stand in front of an X-Wing Fighter prop from the film.

From where I sat, with Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) to my left and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) behind me, the little kid who watched the very first Star Wars with his Mom was now about to watch the latest movie with his own daughter.  I was both a fan of the movie and excited to see a movie play once again in the theatre.  As the movie started to roll, the glow from the screen illuminated the entire audience who were all transfixed, eagerly awaiting the first look at the next Star Wars installment.  But for me, I was taken at first not by the movie, but something hard to describe.  The theatre felt different for me.  I don’t know what the feeling was but it was wonderful.  We, the staff, so often take for granted the musicals we present on stage and our ability to present show after show.  We forget what a quiet roll the theatre itself plays.  But at the premiere, we were allowed to simply admire a wonderful movie, being shown in one of the most beautiful venues in the country.  It is a moment I can’t adequately describe and one I won’t soon forget.

Large Rogue One posters line the red carpet of the premiere.

We don’t know when we will host a premiere again, but I, for one, hope it is sooner rather than later.  For now, we look forward to the theatrical release of Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical, filmed here at the Hollywood Pantages last September.  For a brief moment, the theatre will get to be a part of movie history again.

Jeff Loeb

General Manager

Hollywood Pantages

Costumes from Rogue One are displayed on the red carpet for the premiere.

A tent covers the length of the red carpet due to a threat of rain.

The cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story pose for photos in the X-Wing Fighter

The Pantages marquee is just visible through the tenting on Hollywood Blvd

Rogue One banners cover the front of the Pantages.

A life size TIE-Fighter stands above the bar at the Rogue One after party.

Costume Displays

We love a costume display. There is nothing better than opening up a box filled with costumes. Pulling out our mannequins and playing dress up really makes our day. This is why few years back we decided that investing in costume mannequins was going to be in our best interest. We believe that the costumes are another character in the show and we want you to get up close and personal with these beauties. Check out some of our favorite costume displays throughout the years.

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Masks from Disney’s The Lion King.

While we know the Lion King masks are not costumes exactly, they are a very crucial piece of the show. These masks with their stunning detail and surprisingly light weight fascinated theatre goers in 2014 and 2015

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Phantom of The Opera costumes displayed in the Hollywood Pantages Lobby

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The Phantom of The Opera costumes helped to jazz up our booth at the 2015 Festival of Books

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The Phantom of the Opera costumes at Dodgers Stadium in 2015

Our Phantom costumes got a bit of a workout! Not only did they preside over the lobby during the 2015 run of The Phantom of the Opera but they also traveled to the Festival of Books and Dodgers Stadium to help us promote the show.

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Inside SoCal’s Erica Olsen pictured next to costumes from Bullets Over Broadway

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Costumes for Bullets Over Broadway

Inside Socal’s Erica Olsen got all gussied up to help us promote our pre Bullets Over Broadway speakeasy. The costumes pictured were designed by Tony Award Winner William Ivy Long.

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The Kinky Boots

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Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein showed off the Kinky Boots while receiving their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

While these Kinky Boots never made it to the lobby, they served a pivotal role in the star ceremony for Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper.

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Ensemble gown from 42nd Street

This ensemble gown from the number Dames in 42nd Street really surprised us with just how heavy it was. The entire gown is hand beaded. It’s also possible that everyone in the office put the hat on at one point or another!

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Ensemble costumes from the finale of White Christmas

The White Christmas ensemble costumes are our newest display in the lobby. What could be better than red and white fleece and a tap shoe?

What costumes would you like to see displayed in our lobby?

2016-17 Season Ticket Holder Open House

Welcome to the 2016-17 Hollywood Pantages Season! We invited our new Season Ticket Holders to make their Pantages Theatre debut at our annual open house. Guests explored the theatre learning about the history and architecture as well as sampling small bites from local area restaurants.  We would like to thank  all of our neighborhood and restaurant partners for helping us out. A special thank you to Chelsea Lauren for the beautiful photos.

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The Ultimate TBT

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.

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Ladies mirrored lounge on house right near the lower bar.

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Lounge now used as offices for our Front of House Manager.

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Looking over the mezzanine.

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The Grand Chandelier inside of the theatre.

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A view of the center colonnade from the lobby. Currently the location of the concessions stand.

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Original box office located in the center of the outer lobby..

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Poster windows still utilized today.

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Front door entrance hallway.

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Original lobby chandelier.

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Original center mural pictured above the stage.

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A view of the theatre seats from behind the side stage curtain.

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Another look at the poster windows.

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Front doors to the theatre from the outer lobby.

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Plush couches and benches line the colonnade.

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Mezzanine staircase landing. Currently home to one of the theatre’s bars.

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Mezzanine staircase landing.

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Chairs located outside the center mezzanine doors.

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The theatre lobby.

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Decorated drinking fountain located near door 5 in the colonnade.

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Exterior of theatre taken in 1930 shortly after the theatre’s opening.

The Fire Curtain

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.

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The entrance of the Iroquois Theater in Chicago 1903.

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.

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Aftermath of the Iroquois Theater fire 1903

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.

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Hollywood Pantages original fire curtain

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.

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Current Hollywood Pantages Theatre fire curtain

The Mysterious Howard Hughes

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.

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Howard Hughes sits at the cockpit of his TWA plane.

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.

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Entrance to our Group Sales Office, formally the projection and screening room of Howard Hughes.

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Holes that were once for the projector have been patched and covered by Lion King artwork in 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.

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Blue prints of the Hollywood Pantages offices during Hughes’ ownership. Sinks in every office

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.

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Old shower located in the basement of the theatre currently being used for storage.

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.

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The Broadway Building pictured on the right looking East down Hollywood Blvd. The Pantages Theatre is seen in the distance.

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.

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A scene from the 2004 film The Aviator. Pictured are Leonardo DiCaprio (Howard Hughes) and Kate Blanchett (Katharine Hepburn) in the Hollywood Pantages Theatre lobby.

 

Our Newsie

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.

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Screenshot from the 1992 film Newsies. Halbert Hernandez in the top left corner.

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.

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Screenshot in the balcony from the 1992 film Newsies. Halbert Hernandez pictured on the left.

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.

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Ann-Margret in the 1992 film Newsies

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.

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Halbert Hernandez

 

We Knew Him as Jimmy

This week, we at the Hollywood Pantages/Nederlander Organization lost our patriarch and chairman. James M. Nederlander passed away Monday evening at the age of 94.

A modern example of the American Dream, Jimmy started sweeping floors at age 7 for his father David T. Nederlander in Detroit, Michigan. Since then he has held every position one could hold while working in the theatre biz from box office to advertising, production and management to company chairman. One of these jobs was to scout out shows in New York for his father. It was on one of these trips in 1964 that Jimmy learned from a friend that RKO was selling its flagship Palace Theatre. In a $1.6 million handshake, Jimmy sealed his fate and the fate of the Nederlander Organization.

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James M. Nederlander poses in front of The Palace Theatre 1981

In the years following the purchase of the Palace Theatre Jimmy developed a healthy rivalry with the competing NYC theatre family, the Shuberts. Even with the constant competition, one of Jimmy’s closest friends was Philip J. Smith, chairman of the board of the Shubert Organization.

Jimmy found much success starting with the musical Annie in 1977 and has had producer, co-producer, or investor credits on successful titles that include Applause, La Cage aux Folles, Me and My Girl, Nine, Noises Off, Peter Pan, Sweet Charity, The Will Rogers Follies, Woman of the Year and many more. Jimmy, however, was not without his failures. As a reminder he kept the posters of his biggest flops in his office bathroom. For a complete list of works visit Jimmy’s IBDB page.

 

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The Alvin Theatre changes its name to Annie in 1977

In 1977, The Nederlander Organization came in as Pacific Theatre’s partner and gave the Hollywood Pantages an overhaul before re-opening it as a legitimate theatre with “Bubbling Brown Sugar” in February 1977.  When The Nederlander Organization heard that the Walt Disney Company was seeking a home for its Los Angeles production of The Lion King, Jimmy locked in a Pantages booking by agreeing to a substantial renovation.  It was time, thought Nederlander, to get the theatre looking more like it did in 1930.  The theatre was restored to its original luster in time for the highly-anticipated L.A. Premiere of Disney’s The Lion King.

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Jimmy Nederlander and Bette Midler

Along with The Hollywood Pantages Theatre, The Nederlander Organization currently owns or operates nine Broadway theaters, the Palace,the Brooks Atkinson, Gershwin, Lunt-Fontanne, Marquis, Minskoff, Nederlander, Neil Simon and Richard Rodgers — two in Detroit, four in Chicago and three in London, one in Oklahoma City, as well as others in San Diego, San Jose, CA, Tucson, Durham, NC, Charleston, SC.

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From Left: Emilio Estefan, James L. Nederlander, Jimmy Nederlander, and Gloria Estefan

In November of 1986 Jimmy was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located right in front of The Hollywood Pantages Theatre. “Generous,” “loyal” and “trusted” are just a few of the accolades Jimmy’s numerous friends use to describe him—many of whom have enjoyed a life-long personal and business relationship.

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Jimmy’s star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame

In addition to his star Jimmy has been the recipient of many distinguished honors including United Nations Foundation Champion Award (2012), The Broadway League’s Schoenfeld Vision for Arts Education Award (2011), the New York Pop’s Man of the Year (2008), the Tony Award® Special Tony Award for Life Time Achievement (2004), and The Actors’ Fund Medal of Honor (2002).

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Jimmy Nederlander receiving his Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2004.

In 2009 The National High School Musical Theater Award was established and named The Jimmy to celebrate his career-long dedication to supporting young talent. Each year high school students from all over the United States come together to compete in the Jimmy Awards. The participants spend a week in workshops and rehearsals with Broadway professionals in hopes of walking away with college scholarship prizes.

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James M. Nederlander (Jimmy)

Jimmy operated on instinct, often backing shows simply because he liked the people involved. He was well respected, loved, and admired by all who knew him. He is often referred to as Broadway’s last patriarch, but we knew him as Jimmy.

Our Favorite Instamoments

We know most of you are used to hearing from us via our Facebook page but we want to draw some attention to our other favorite social media page, Instagram. Take a tour of our favorite instamoments.

That time Brandy starred in Chicago

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That time William Shatner came to see The Illusionists

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That time they changed the light bulbs in the lobby chandeliers

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That time Madame Tussauds let us borrow Captain Picard and the Captain’s Chair

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That time we took a photo from inside the grand chandelier

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That time Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein got their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 

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That time Constintine Maroulis was on The Soup promoting Jekyll and Hyde

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That time we had a little too much fun with Annie at Dodger Stadium

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That time we caught Don Attilio from Phantom of the Opera reading a magazine by the stage door

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That time Elder Price sang the National Anthem at Dodger’s Stadium

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That time Elphaba sang the National Anthem at a Clippers game

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That time we put up the holiday trees in the dark

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That time Jonathan Bennett stopped on the If/Then red carpet to take selfies with fans

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That time Sophie from Mamma Mia took over our Instagram

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That time Kristin Davis met Sandy from Annie

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That time we let Luke Godny, the understudy for all of the instruments for Once, take over our Instagram

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That time when both Mike Tyson and Spike Lee were on the red carpet together

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That time we had a mini Christine and Phantom at the theatre

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That time the cast of Motown was on Good Day LA

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That time a Newsie threw the first pitch at Dodger Stadium

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That time we gave the theatre a little touch up

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That time we had a speakeasy party before Bullets Over Broadway

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That time the cast of 42nd Street took over our Instagram and went to Universal Studios

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That time we held auditions for America’s Got Talent

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That time Weird Al came to see Donnie and Marie Osmond

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That time when Bill Berloni and Macy walked the red carpet for Annie

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And that time the marquee commented on the Beautiful sunset

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For more Hollywood Pantages Instamoments follow us on Instagram hollywoodpantagestheatre