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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7 Reasons Why the Mezzanine is the Best!

In two weeks we will begin one of the biggest seasons the Hollywood Pantages has ever seen! We know that tickets for the 2016-17 are selling quickly but don’t despair.  We want to let you in on the secret that is the mezzanine. We have compiled 7 excellent reasons you should give the mezzanine a try!

1.The ushers will tell you that it is their favorite place in the theatre to sit. Who better to take advice from than someone who has seen the same show from every angle of the theatre multiple times?

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2. The stadium seating is more pronounced, much like a movie theater. If you happen to be on the shorter side or are attending the theatre with small children this allows for better visibility should someone tall sit in front of you.

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3. Speaking of kids, sitting in the mezzanine is great if you have small children and need to step out frequently for bathroom breaks or need to stretch your legs.

4. The restroom lines move faster upstairs. There are only 950 seats in the mezzanine and 1,750 downstairs. That means there are fewer people using the restrooms upstairs and it helps that the ladies restroom in the mezzanine is the largest ladies room in the theatre.

5. Sitting in the mezzanine feels more intimate. Like we mentioned before, there are only 950 seats in the mezz. Depending on where you are sitting you may not be able to see the folks sitting in the orchestra making it feel like your own private theatre.

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6. Secret Tip: Row J in the mezzanine has the most foot room of any row in the theatre. The people in the front row of the theatre may have some extra foot room as well but they are looking straight up the actor’s noses. In row J you get to stretch out and enjoy the view in front of you.

7. The view of the beautiful blue ceiling and chandelier are much better in the mezzanine. Take some time before the show and really explore the ceiling. We find new details in it all the time.

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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

One Night Only

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.

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The event was invite only but a standby line was available to hardcore Fansies who started lining up at 1am Sunday morning.

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11 cameras were brought in for the filming

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Broadway cast members spent an entire week together rehearsing before the live filming.

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Special merchandise was available for this one time only event.

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The cast dressed and ready to go. From Left Andrew Keenan-Bolger ‘Crutchie’, Kara Lindsay ‘Katherine’, Ben Fankhauser ‘Davey’, and Jeremy Jordan ‘Jack Kelly’

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The audience waiting for the filming to begin

UPDATE!

Disney’s Newsies Live, filmed at the Hollywood Pantages, opens in select theaters Feb 16, 18, and the 22. Check out the video below as Newsies goes behind the scenes at the Hollywood Pantages.

 

Hollywood Pantages Season Ticket Holders were invited to a screening of Newsies and surprised by a Q&A afterwards with Nico DeJesus, a Newsie from the filming.

Jeff Loeb, General Manager of the Hollywood Pantages conducts a post screening Q&A with Nico DeJesus, Newsies cast member.

 

Two more chances to see Newsies. February 18 and 22, 2017

Nico DeJesus discusses his experience filming a live theatrical production.

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