Tag Archives: Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Tearing it Up!

The Hollywood Pantages Theatre is a very different place when there is no show in the building. The stage returns to its black blank canvas and the auditorium seems much smaller without the audience members filling each seat. While we do miss you when you’re gone, we take these quiet moments to keep the old girl looking like her fabulous self.

This year we had just about 4 weeks between An American in Paris and The Bodyguard to get all of the seats removed, rip out all of the carpet, get the new carpet laid down, and get all of the seats back in place. The photos below show what we have done so far.

Day 1: All of the seats have to be unbolted from the floor before they can be removed. Seats are removed in groups of three or four. Once seats have been cleared from an area the carpet is then pulled up.

Row SS begins to fall backwards after having the bolts removed.

Workers begin to pull up the carpet from the rear of the 200 section.

Orchestra seats begin to take over the lobby.

Seats were also placed in the lower bar near the women’s restroom on the West side of the building.

Seats filling up the colonnade near the tiled drinking fountain.

The seats in the rear 200 and 100 sections have been completely removed.

Air conditioning vent boxes are now visible with the seats removed. The Hollywood Pantages cooling is based on a push/pull system. The vent boxes open to 2 massive pressurized air chambers known as the plenum located right below the seats.

Photo taken from the mezzanine house right. The aisles between each section have been stripped of their carpet.

By the end of day 1 over half of the seats have been removed from the orchestra.

Day 2: Seats at the front of the orchestra are moved onto the stage. The last of the seats must be removed along with the rest of the carpet.

Seats from the front orchestra are moved onto the stage.

By the end of day 2 all seats and carpet have been removed from the orchestra. Workers begin picking up pieces of hardware from the seats.

View from the stage of the empty orchestra.

Day 3: The floor must be cleaned and prepped for new carpet installation.

Crews work to vacuum and sweep the floors to prep for new carpet.

Vent boxes are inspected and maintained, any remaining nuts and bolts are picked up.

Stay tuned for updates!

Introducing the 2017-2018 Season

This past Tuesday, bright and early in the perfectly lively 6AM hour, we announced the six amazing shows headed to our Pantages Theatre for the 2017-2018 season. Now that you’ve had time to let the big reveal sink in, get even more information about them below.

ALADDIN

Original Broadway Cast (C) Deen van Meer

  • There are currently five different productions of ALADDIN playing all around the world not including this tour: Broadway, the West End in London, Australia, Germany, and Japan.
  • The current actor who plays “Aladdin” on Broadway will be playing “Aladdin” in the touring company, Adam Jacobs.
  • 337 costumes—based on 136 individual designs—were created for the show. Aladdin has a quick change in the show where he goes from street rat to prince.
  • James Monroe Iglehart, the 2014 Tony Award® winner for his performance as Genie in ALADDIN, is about to begin performances in the Broadway production of HAMILTON. ALADDIN opens at the Pantages Theatre less than two weeks after HAMILTON closes.
    Whoopi Goldberg recently sent Iglehart off during a performance of ALADDIN and went behind the scenes of the show.
  • Howard Ashman (lyrics) and Alan Menken (music) wrote the soundtrack in the original film. This show features many of the songs from the film plus songs that were cut before the film written by Ashman and Menken.
  • Los Angeles is the national tour’s first stop before it heads off to Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and other cities.
  • Official show merchandise can be found at the Aladdin Musical’s Broadway store
  • The Broadway cast performed “Friend Like Me” on Good Morning America

 LOVE NEVER DIES

The Phantom and Christine in “Love Never Dies” (C) Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

  • The original cast of LOVE NEVER DIES starred Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo who played Christine and Phantom in the 25th anniversary edition of Phantom.
  • LOVE NEVER DIES was filmed at its Melbourne production and was released on DVD in 2012.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber started working on the sequel in 1990 but was delayed several times in completing it until 2011. “Around 1990 I had the idea of continuing the story of Phantom and Christine and setting it in New York at the turn of the last century. I had a thrilling discussion over dinner with the late Maria Bjornson, who created the brilliant design of the original Phantom. She was very excited about a New World location.”
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber was inspired to place the Phantom at Coney Island after watching a documentary about Coney Island featuring the wonders of that extraordinary world.
  • The show has also had productions on the West End (2010-2011), Copenhagen (2012-2013), Vienna (2013), Japan (2014), and Germany (from 2015). However, this tour is based on the Australian production which debuted in 2012 to glowing critical reception.
  • Along with Phantom and Christine, the show also features Madame Giry, Meg, and Raoul.
  • LOVE NEVER DIES features circus performers as well as intricate sets and costumes.
  • Phantom runs a combination freak show and vaudeville house in Coney Island.

SCHOOL OF ROCK

David Fynn and company in the London production. (C) Tristram Kenton

  • SCHOOL OF ROCK opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway over a year ago on December 6, 2015.
  • This show was the first Andrew Lloyd Webber show to premiere on Broadway before debuting at the West End in thirty years.
  • It was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Julian Fellowes), Best Original Score (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater), and Best Actor in a Musical (Alex Brightman). The cast also performed.
  • Before SCHOOL OF ROCK’s Broadway debut, staged concerts were held at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan in June 2015, featuring songs from the show.
  • All of the songs in the movie are in the musical as well as fourteen new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber first revealed that he had purchased the stage rights to School of Rock in a 2013 interview.
  •  The SCHOOL OF ROCK cast album was released in December 2015 and features three bonus tracks plus a song that was cut from production during previews, “Give Up Your Dreams.”

THE COLOR PURPLE

Heather Headly, Cynthia Erivo, and Danielle Brooks in the Revival Broadway Cast of The Color Purple (C) Matthew Murphy

  • This revival of the THE COLOR PURPLE most recently played at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. It’s opening night was December 10, 2015 and its final Broadway performance was on January 8, 2017.
  • THE COLOR PURPLE also won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical at the 70th Annual Tony Awards in 2016.
  • The revival cast album is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album and could possible be announced the winner come GRAMMY night this Sunday, February 12, on CBS.
  • Among the producers of the revival is Oprah Winfrey as well as Scott Sanders and Roy Furman.
  • The Color Purple has played in Los Angeles before at the Ahmanson Theatre in a touring production from December 13, 2007 through March 9, 2008.
  • This touring production, however, is based on the recent Broadway revival which is stripped down and extremely focused on the characters under the direction of John Doyle.
  • The original Broadway production ran from 2005 to 2008, earning eleven Tony Award nominations in 2006.

ON YOUR FEET

  • ON YOUR FEET is currently playing at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.
  • This show is a “jukebox musical” containing several of Gloria Estefan’s greatest hits and on original song written specifically for the show.
  • Both Gloria and Emilio Estefan have been extremely involved in producing the show and bringing it to life, even performing with the cast at the 70th Annual Tony Awards.
  • Gloria and Emilio Estefan were approached by Jimmy Nederlander circa 1990 about doing a Latin-based show for Broadway. Circa 2005, they began crafting an offer for a musical show in Vegas that was eventually pitched to the Nederlanders who loved it and eventually ON YOUR FEET! made it to Broadway.
  • The ON YOUR FEET cast album was recorded live in March 2016, and was produced by Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Check it out here.
  • David Rooney, in his review of the Broadway production for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote, “Just try keeping the grin off your face when two massive human chains—of cast and audience members—flood the aisles of the Marquis Theatre…”
    If you’ve ever wanted to conga line through the Pantages Theatre, this is the show for you!

WAITRESS

Drew Gehling and Jessie Mueller in the original Broadway Cast of “Waitress.” (C) Joan Marcus

  • WAITRESS first began performances at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, on August 2, 2015 starring Jessie Mueller with Keala Settle and Jeanna de Waal.
  • The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name which starred Kerri Russell under the direction of screenwriter and director, Adrienne Shelly.
  • Diane Paulus, the director of WAITRESS, has also directed many shows which have been at the Pantages Theatre in recent years such as Pippin and Finding Neverland.
  • At the 2016 Tony Awards, both Jessie Mueller and Sara Bareilles performed “She Used to be Mine.”
  • The WAITRESS cast recording is nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award to be held this Sunday, February 12, on CBS.
  • The musical features a special relationship to pie that has led the Broadway production to have a pie consultant. Stacy Donnelly is the official pie consultant who makes about 40 pies a week for the actors and actresses to use as props. She also cooks the pies in a lobby oven which allows the theatre to smell like pie, further transporting the audience into the show.
  • WAITRESS was nominated for 4 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Original Score (Sara Bareilles), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jessie Mueller), and Best Actor in a Featured Role (Christopher Fitzgerald).

For more about these six wonderful shows in our 2017-2018 season, check out our season announcement video below and visit: www.hollywoodpantages.com.

 

Nicole has been an intern in the marketing department at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre since late-November, 2016. She studies communication with a minor in music industry at the University of Southern California. She was super excited to write this blog post and can’t wait for all of these amazing shows to hit the Pantages stage.

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.

via GIPHY

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!

 

 

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.

iroquois theater fire damage

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.

Origianl Fire Curtain

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.

Some Stories Behind the Dancing Feet

By Evan Henerson

As showbiz tales go, “42nd Street’s” is one of the oldest and most inspirational. Fresh faced starry-eyed girl gets off the bus from Allentown determined to find a job – any job – in show business. When the star breaks her ankle, up steps the unknown to take over and write her name in lights.

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Caitlin Ehlinger and Matthew J. Taylor of the 2016 42nd Street Touring Cast.

Great stuff, right? Well, naturally, there’s a story behind the effort to bring the classic 1933 film to the Broadway stage in 1980 where it ran for more than eight years. Likewise, there’s another tale behind the 2001 Broadway revival on which the current production at the Hollywood Pantages is based. In the more than 30 years he has spent with the show, Mark Bramble – the musical’s co-writer and the revival’s director –can rattle off an assortment of them.

But in the summer of 2015, when Bramble and choreographer Randy Skinner re-assembled to assemble the newest touring cast, Bramble put out a call for new stories about another time.

“When I approach a new production, I really do start from scratch, and I want to put the show in a context that’s relevant to the time in which the production is being done,” Bramble said. “We’re just getting out of — and some people say we’re still not out of — this tremendous recession. In 1933, 42nd street, the film really got America out of the Depression.”

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2016 Touring Cast of 42nd Street

“These are people in their 20s and 30s and they had no understanding of the Great Depression. Many of them didn’t even know it existed,” he continued. “I gave them an assignment: find someone in your life who was alive in 1933 and who had a memory of that time. We shared those stories every day before rehearsal.”

While several “42nd Street” company members came back with stories of loss and ruin, others found evidence of ingenuity and even prosperity. An African American singer and dancer and her sister got jobs singing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem (“they had never had it so grand,” Bramble said.) Another cast member found someone who spoke of planting a secret vegetable garden, protected by a ramshackle fence, on which they survived and, when possible, helped feed the neighborhood.

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42nd Street Opening Night 1980

Bramble shared a personal story as well. Bramble’s mother, a child at the time, accompanied her father when he went to work on Saturdays to take violin lessons at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. One day while on the train, they learned that the stock market had crashed and the banks had closed. The girl asked her father what all of this meant. It meant, her father explained, that the only money the family had left was what was currently in his wallet.

“When the country began to get back on its feet, and she resumed her routine of going to Baltimore, she would see people on the train and in the train station who she had once seen as well dressed businessmen, and they were selling apples,” Bramble said. “They had lost their jobs. They had lost everything, and there they were trying to survive by literally selling apples.”

Bramble first heard this story in the late 1970s when he and co-writer Michael Stewart were figuring out how to bring “42nd Street” to the stage. After watching a screening of the film at the Carnegie Cinema in the basement of Carnegie Hall, they rushed back to Stewart’s apartment and called composer Jerry Herman to gauge his interest in composing new music. Herman’s response: absolutely not. Anybody who adapted “42nd Street” for the stage and didn’t use Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s songs in a stage musical was a fool.

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1980 Cast of 42nd Street

Bramble, Stewart and director-choreographer Gower Champion set out to secure the rights to the song catalog. Meanwhile, word of the team’s quest filtered back to legendary producer David Merrick. Merrick, who had been working on films in Hollywood, wanted to get back to Broadway and thought “42nd Street” would be the perfect vehicle.

Stewart balked, still smarting from the failure of their collaboration on 1974’s “Mack and Mabel.” Bramble insisted they take a meeting with the producer, and Stewart went in with guns blazing.

“We met at the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel,” Bramble recalled. “Mike was a very feisty guy and he was very pissed off with Merrick over ‘Mack and Mabel.’ He sat down and he was practically growling, he was so angry. He said, ‘David, this is a big show. We want 16 girls,’ and Merrick looked at him as if he had lost his mind.”

“He said, ’16 girls? I won’t do it with less than 24, and if we can fit them on the stage, I’ll use 36.’ Of course, that shut Mike up. David said, ‘I want to do the biggest show since the Second World War,’ and we set about to do that.”

As the team came together, Champion – the show’s director and choreographer – needed a male dance assistant to work with arranger Donald Johnston. Johnston recommended a young dancer from Ohio named Randy Skinner.

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Randy Skinner

“I was kind of the same age as a lot of the kids I was in charge of,” Skinner recalled. “On the one hand, I felt like one of the kids, and wanted to go out with them at night. The other half of me realized that this was one of those breaks that happens without your realizing that it could be life altering. Which it was.”

The out of town reviews were not favorable, but Merrick forged ahead anyway. At its first preview in Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Bramble recalls maybe 300 people in an auditorium that held 2,000. On the play’s opening night in 1980, Champion passed away. The musical went on to become the 14th longest running show in Broadway history.

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After an opening night of “42nd Street” in 1980, the producer David Merrick, right, announced the death of the show’s director, Gower Champion.

“42nd Street’s “success effectively launched the careers of both Bramble and Skinner who reunited to stage the 2001 revival, Bramble as director, Skinner as choreographer. The two men have subsequently worked on productions both regionally and around the world from London to Shanghai, from Berlin to Tokyo. Bramble has been nominated for Tony Awards for the original book and for his direction of the 2001 revival. Skinner’s choreography for the revival was also Tony-nominated.

Skinner calls it “the granddaddy of all musicals.” Bramble concurs, citing the life-affirming message about the possibility of the American Dream, a theme that he says never gets old.

“If you follow your bliss, dreams really can come true,” Bramble said, “and I think that’s what the appeal was of the film in 1933, I think it’s what the appeal was of the original Broadway show in 1980, and I think it continues to be the appeal.”

And speaking of following your bliss, here’s one more story.

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Matthew J. Taylor and Caitlin Ehlinger as Peggy Sawyer and Julian Marsh in 42nd Street

While still in high school in Houston, Caitlin Ehlinger took a master class with Skinner and declared it a dream to one day dance for Skinner professionally. Nearing her graduation date and with only high school musicals on her resume, she travelled to New York to audition for “42nd Street.” After a 10 day audition process, she won the role of – you guessed it – Peggy Sawyer, the unknown ingénue who becomes a star.

Only in the theater.

Evan Henerson has been writing about theater in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He was the Theater writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News for nine years and has written for Playbill Online, Backstage, American Theatre and Stage Directions.You can read his reviews on TheaterMania, CurtainUp and Examiner.com.

Evan Henerson has been writing about theater in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He was the Theater writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News for nine years and has written for Playbill Online, Backstage, American Theatre and Stage Directions.You can read his reviews on TheaterMania, CurtainUp and Examiner.com.