From Vaudeville towards the Academy Awards – Pantages Theaters Shine On

The Los Angeles Pantages continues to make history to this day. It is currently offering Phantom of the Opera, incidentally the longest-running play in the history of theatrical productions. In coming months, fortunate theatregoers will be able to procure tickets to such gems as Grease, Rain, Mamma Mia! and Rent.

The Los Angeles Pantages Theatre is a world-famous  テアトルアカデミー example of Art Deco architecture, and it is capable of hosting theatrical extravaganzas as well as rock concerts and, of course, the star-studded Academy Awards. The interior d’cor alone is enough to elicit awe-struck admiration. Since its operation was taken over by the Nederlander Organization, more than $10 million has been invested in re-creating and improving the original grandeur and comfort of this Hollywood landmark.

The last theatre ever built by Alexander Pantages is the one which still occupies its favored site at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood, U.S.A. Like all the other theatres, this one was designed to house Pantages Vaudeville acts, but by then the shows offered were a mixture of live acts and the then-emerging “talkies” or moving pictures with sound. Due to the Great Depression, cutbacks had to be made, and the theatre cut back on live shows to offer mostly first run movies.

Since the Los Angeles Pantages was built in 1929 for a ‘mere’ $1.25 million, it has paid for itself a few times! The Lion King alone, in its more than two-year run from 2000 to 2003, brought in over $142 million. Tickets to the Pantages in L.A. offer more than just the show on stage, too. Visitors can just sit back in luxurious comfort and marvel at the glorious display of architecture and stunning decor – gold leaf included!

The theatre has been host to many of the most spectacular and thrilling performances, both theatrical and musical, that the world has ever seen on stage. It is a favorite location for the filming of movie scenes, and has even hosted rock concerts. It also has the prestige of having been the site of five of the highest-grossing weeks in all of L.A.’s entertainment history.

Before he stopped building, there were 500 Pantages ‘playhouses’ on the circuit, ranging from Canada to the whole of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Most have fallen into neglect and decay, but a few shining examples carry on the Pantages name. In Minneapolis in 1916 the Pantages was the first public building in the city to be ‘air conditioned’, with ice as the coolant. For future reference, this one cost about $15,000 to build! Among the few that have survived in splendor through the economic swings of the intervening years are the theatres in Toronto, Canada and in Tacoma, Washington.

The founder of the Pantages “empire” was born Pericles Pantages, but having great admiration for Alexander the Great, he changed his first name, not without some evidence of foresight! His first theatre was built in 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba for the showcasing of vaudeville acts, and Alexander Pantages the Greek entrepreneur began his Vaudeville Circuit.

A widely publicized trial in 1929 led to the downfall of the ‘Pantages Empire’. He sold everything at rock- bottom -dollar and died soon after. In 1949 it became the RKO Pantages when Howard Hughes bought it and made it part of his corporation. The theatre took on added glamour in the 1950’s as it hosted the Academy Award Ceremonies for 10 years. It was also host to such grand openings as Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born, and many other glittering events. When it closed as a movie theatre in 1977 and re-opened with the stage show Bubbling Brown Sugar, its course was pretty well charted.

Anyone who appreciates the mix of art and glamour embodied in the Los Angeles Pantages (or incidentally is hoping to gain office space in this epicenter of entertainment) will be thrilled with the latest news. The theatre was originally intended to have 12 stories, with office space on the upper floors. Construction was halted, like many other projects, by the onset of the Great Depression, but plans are underw