With theatres like these, who in their right mind would choose to go to a “cineplex”?
Seriously? I admit it was a bittersweet stroll down Broadway from 3rd Street to Olympic Boulevard. As stunningly grand as the six operating old theatres were, it was heartbreaking to see that so many other old houses have been squatted upon by far from glamourous retail outlets. I suppose we must be glad that those few landmarks have survived, and encourage City Councilmember Jose Huizar to continue his visionary Bringing Back Broadway initiative, now in its 9th year of implementation.
The first beauty I visited was The Million Dollar Theatre.
Sid Grauman’s first Los Angeles movie palace that opened February first 1918. It truly is a “Temple of the Motion Picture” as it is dubbed in the info sheet I was offered within. The incredible detail throughout, the hardwoods the inlay, the mouldings… The structure itself is an artpiece. It’s stage was hosting an impressive series of latin bands and dance companies.
The Los Angeles Theatre opened in 1931 in the heart of the depression.
Of those I visited it was the most labyrithine and orgiastic in its array of curiosities. The venue was lit to highlight the psychadelic vibe it was hosting, that didn’t mask the house’s unique character though. The nursery room and the hall of mirrors retain a glimpse of the space’s eccentricity and the multiple levels make me wonder whether or not there are secret passageways that might even be linking the theatres like an undergroud maze.
The Palace Theatre opened in 1911.
Originally called the Orpheum Theatre, it was a versatile vaudeville venue capable of staging drama and musicals as well. Sadly its eight opera boxes were amputated when it was transformed into a movie venue in 1926, and re-named Broadway Palace. This venue in my opinion had a more European feel which was somewhat at odds with the comedy showcase it was hosting – that said it may have been th particular comic on stage during my visit that the theatre didn’t care for.
I didn’t brave the line to get in to see The Globe.
The Funky Sole Groove-a-thon was in full swing by that time. Not only was I not wearing my dancing shoes, I was also starting to feel a pretty strong buzz from the clouds of “recreational” burning bush I was inadvertantly walking through.
The Orpheum took me back to prohibition and the days of the speakeasy.
It opened in 1926 with an opulent art deco theatre above ground and a relaxed lounge and bar below. Definitely the sort of place that Scott Fitzgerald would frequent. This venue was hosting an interesting blend of audio-visual artistry in hommage to the emergence of VJs and how moving images have influenced the music world.
The United Artists Theatre in the Ace Hotel is historically important for oh so many reasons.
For the purposes of the event it was offering up a live electronic and experimental music program featuring video art instalations. Though it sounded tempting my head was already reeling with sensory overload so I didn’t go in. I definitely plan to pay it a visit in the near future without all the hoopla, just to feel the energy of the space and commune with the theatre’s original champions.
The event itself was good fun with a variety of bands, street performers, visual artists, vendors and info kiosks. There was even a Virtual Reality Zone which sadly was also sporting lines longer than my tired feet were able to endure. There was no shortage of food trucks with an astounding array of street cuisine. One particularly marvelous installation on the street was the earth harp, it was mesmerizing . This 200ft harp was strung from the top of the 12 story Beaux Art State Theatre tower on the corner of 7th and Broadway down to the north east corner of the intersection where its inventor William Close made haunting music on the extraordinary instrument.
All in all Night on Broadway made for a most enjoyable evening. I look forward to a stellar 10 year anniversary and will definitely attend prepared with dancing shoes on!
My novel, The Führer Must Die, was released November 8th, 2016 get it through your favourite book seller.