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Historic Theatre Photography

This website is a gathering place for all the photos and information I have pulled together on the various theatres and movie palaces I've been lucky enough to visit and/or work in. It's not meant to replace the great work done by others with similar websites, rather it focuses on my own photography and presents that along with the information I have about each theatre.

I hope you find this website interesting, and if you have a theatre you'd like me to photograph I'd love for you to get in touch.

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Auditorium Theatre

Completed in 1889, the Auditorium Theatre is part of a larger building complex in downtown Chicago called the Auditorium Building. The architects, Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, with young draughtsman Frank Lloyd Wright, incorporated several modern features into the theatre such as air conditioning and 3,500 bare carbon filament lamps adorning the multiple levels of the auditorium.

Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre was completed in 1921 as the flagship theatre of the Balaban & Katz empire, built primarily as a movie palace but with stage facilities included. Architects Cornelius W. Rapp and George L. Rapp designed the theatre in the Neo-Baroque French-revival style, the most obvious nod being the theatre’s 6-storey façade echoing Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. The massive 7-storey movie palace takes up half a city block and seats 3,600 (originally 3,880).

CIBC Theatre

Opened as the Majestic Theatre in 1906 as part of the multi-use Majestic Building, the theatre occupying lower floors and the Majestic Hotel occupying upper levels. Since 1991 the theatre has been owned by the Nederlander Organization; it is currently operated by Broadway in Chicago.

Los Angeles: Downtown

Belasco Theatre

The Belasco Theatre opened in late 1926 under the management of Edward Belasco and partners – Edward was the brother of famous New York theatre producer David Belasco. The same management team operated the Mayan Theatre, which was built next door immediately after the Belasco was completed.

Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre was built in 1913 as the Morosco Theatre, designed for full-scale productions at a time when theatres were being built solely to house vaudeville. The theatre was part of a larger office tower called the Garland Building, designed by Morgan, Walls & Morgan. The theatre interior was designed by Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Los Angeles Music Center

The Los Angeles Music Center is one of the largest performing arts centers in the US and the west coast equivalent of New York’s Lincoln Center. It is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (opera house), the Ahmanson Theatre (large traditional proscenium arch theatre), the Mark Taper Forum (180-degree thrust stage) and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Los Angeles Theatre

Widely acknowledged as Los Angeles' most lavish theatre, construction of this 2,000 seat movie palace took only 6 months and was completed in 1931. Owing to the Great Depression it was the last large theatre of its time to be built in Los Angeles. The stunning French Baroque interior heralds a particularly grand entrance lobby, which is modeled on the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors in France.

The Mayan

The Mayan theatre in downtown Los Angeles is a stunning example of the 1920s fascination with revival-style theatre architecture, in this case Mayan revival. The Mayan opened its doors in 1927 as a legitimate theatre; it is now used as a nightclub and events space. Between times it has showcased movies, blue movies, and has been the scene of many movie locations.

Million Dollar Theatre

The Million Dollar was Sid Grauman’s first major movie theatre when it opened in February 1918. Officially called “Grauman’s Theatre”, it was informally known as the Million Dollar theatre for its opulent interior and rumors of the price tag. The theatre’s name was officially changed in 1922. It was the first movie theatre to break with generally classic design conventions and use fantasy themes throughout.

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum theatre opened in 1926 as the fourth and final Los Angeles venue for the Orpheum circuit, and the second Orpheum theatre to be built on Broadway in downtown LA. The theatre is home to a Mighty Wurlitzer organ which is still in service today. Architect G. Albert Lansburgh designed the theatre and it remains one of his most elaborate examples, including plush fittings throughout the theatre and lobbies.

Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre was built as a vaudeville house and opened in June 1911 as The Orpheum Theatre. Designed by G. Albert Lansburgh (assisted by Robert Brown Young) in a French Renaissance style, it is the oldest remaining theatre from the original Orpheum vaudeville circuit. The Palace played host to vaudeville stars such as Al Jolson, Harry Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt and the Marx brothers.

Regent Theatre

The Regent Theatre is a small 600-seater theatre on Downtown LA’s Main St. Originally the National Theatre, the first theatre built on this site around 1910 had a capacity of just 350. It was rebuilt in 1914, retaining the National name but boasting a capacity of 600. The theatre was renamed The Regent around 1917.

State Theatre

The State Theatre opened as Loew’s State in November 1921 and was their west coast showcase movie theatre, later becoming the downtown Los Angeles home for first-run MGM movies. It is the largest theatre on Broadway by audience capacity (originally 2,450, now 2,387).

Theatre at Ace Hotel

The Theatre at Ace Hotel, formerly known as the United Artists Theatre, opened in 1927 as the flagship for United Artists’ west coast operations. Starting in 2012 the surrounding office building was converted into the Ace Hotel and the theatre was renovated and re-opened in 2014 as a live entertainment and special events venue.

Tower Theatre

The Tower Theatre was the first theatre designed by architect S Charles Lee, one of the most prolific and distinguished movie theatre designers of his time on the US West Coast. Lee’s design for The Tower replaced the 650-seat Garrick Theatre and is notable for fitting a 1000-seat auditorium (906 as built), plus street-level retail stores, into a lot measuring just 50ft by 150ft.

Los Angeles: Hollywood

TCL Chinese Theatre

The 1927 TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was Sid Grauman’s second Hollywood movie palace following the opening of his Egyptian Theatre in 1922, just down the street on Hollywood Boulevard. The Chinese Theatre has likely hosted the largest number of movie premieres of any venue in the world, having been a favorite since its hosting of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King Of Kings” in May 1927.

Earl Carroll Theatre

The Earl Carroll Theatre opened in late 1938 as an “entertainment palace” dinner theatre, or supper club, located in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. Earl Carroll, a Broadway impresario nicknamed “the Troubadour of the Nude”, had already operated a similarly themed theatre in New York from 1922 to 1932, and both theatres sported the phrase “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world” over their respective entrances.

Egyptian Theatre

Built in the early 1920s by Sid Grauman, this movie palace was the site of the first-ever Hollywood movie premiere when it showcased “Robin Hood” in October 1922. The theatre was designed by architect firm Meyer & Holler and was originally planned to be hispanic in nature – hence the Spanish-style roof tiles above the exterior entrance – however was restyled in Revival-Egyptian likely due to public fascination with Egyptian archeology typified by Howard Carter in 1922.

El Capitan Theatre

The El Capitan opened in mid-1926, dubbed as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama”, and was the brainchild of producer and entertainer Charles Toberman. Toberman envisaged Hollywood as a new theatrical and entertainment district for Los Angeles and played an integral part in key developments including the Roosevelt Hotel, Grauman’s Egyptian and Chinese theatres, and the Masonic Temple (now the El Capitan Entertainment Center hosting “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”).

Hollywood Pacific Theatre

Opened in 1928 as the Warner Brothers Hollywood and seating just short of 2,800, this was the largest theatre of its day in Hollywood. Architect G. Albert Lansburgh cleverly maximized the available space by orienting the oval-shaped auditorium and the stage at 45 degrees to the building’s rectangular footprint.

Pantages Theatre

The Pantages was the United States’ first Art Deco theatre, completed in June 1930. No expense was spared on its opulent interior. For a time the theatre was owned by Howard Hughes who maintained his personal offices above the theatre. It is now owned and managed by the Nederlander Organization and was extensively refurbished 1999-2000. The theatre now brings Broadway hits to the Los Angeles and wider Southern California audiences.

Ricardo Montalban Theatre

The Montalban opened in January 1927 as The Wilkes Brothers Vine Street Theatre and the first legitimate Broadway-style theatre in Hollywood. The early 1930s saw it run as a cinema for a few years before becoming the CBS Radio Playhouse – and home of the Al Jolson show – in 1936.

Los Angeles: LA County

Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena

The Rialto opened in October 1925 and was designed to showcase both movies and vaudeville. It was one of the last theatres designed by noted architect Lewis A. Smith (Smith also designed the ever-popular Vista Theatre on Sunset Blvd), and is executed in a mix of styles including Egyptian and Spanish Baroque, however is mainly Moorish Fantasy.

Royce Hall, Westwood

Royce Hall is one of the four original buildings on UCLA’s campus in Westwood, and its twin-towered façade has come to represent the defining image of UCLA. Designed by local architectural firm Allison and Allison it was completed in 1929 as the main hall, grand classroom and principle meeting place for the university. It is now a performing arts venue with capacity of over 1,800.

Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills

The Saban opened as the Fox Wilshire Theater in September 1930 and is one of Los Angeles’ most notable Art Deco buildings. Theatre architect S. Charles Lee designed the Saban to be fully capable as a theatre for vaudeville in addition to its main focus as a major film presentation house.

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse sits beside the historic San Gabriel Mission in Los Angeles County California. The theatre was constructed between 1923 and 1927 for “The Mission Play”, a 3-hour pageant-style production conceived to illustrate the establishment of the California missions. The theatre currently seats 1,387 on two levels and its architecture reflects Spanish, Native-American and Californian culture. The theatre houses a fully-restored Wurlitzer Organ.

Warner Grand, San Pedro

The Warner Grand was opened in January 1931 as a movie palace for Warner Bros. Architect B. Marcus Priteca, noted for the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, and interior designer Anthony Heinsbergen were contracted to design and build three theatres for Warner Bros in the popular Art Deco style, of which the Warner Grand is the best surviving example.

Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Mid-Wilshire

The Wilshire Ebell Theatre is part of a larger complex, completed in 1927, as the clubhouse for The Ebell of Los Angeles, a prominent Los Angeles women’s club formed in 1894. The theatre is relatively intimate in size, seating just under 1,300, and is well known for its excellent acoustics. It has hosted musical performances and lectures by top artists and world leaders.

The Wiltern, Koreatown

The 1931 Wiltern Theatre is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture; its name derives from the intersection it’s located on: WILshire & WesTERN. The theatre was originally intended to be a vaudeville house and was designed by Stiles O. Clements with an interior by G. Albert Lansburgh. Originally built with seating for 2,344, the theatre was modified in 2002 to remove the 1,200 Orchestra level seats so as to create a flexible layout catering for temporary seating and standing-room configurations. The theatre is currently operated by Live Nation.

United Kingdom

Bristol Hippodrome

The Bristol Hippodrome was designed by Frank Matcham, a prolific theatre designer in the UK, and opened on 16 December 1912. At its opening the theatre featured a huge water tank at the front of the stage which could be filled with 100,000 gallons (450,000 litres) of water, as well as an opening central dome in the auditorium to allow for heat dissipation.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

The 1906 King’s Theatre was designed by James Davidson (exterior) and J D Swanston (interior), originally as a rival to Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre, however in 1928 merged into the UK theatre empire belonging to Howard & Wyndham. The theatre is locally known as “The Grand Old Lady Of Leven Street”.

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