Hollywood's oldest gem

Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre has seen and curated rich history and performance since 1930.

By Meg Taylor, News Editor

Located on Hollywood and Vine, the Pantages Theatre’s stunning architecture and transformative stage has brought insurmountable amounts of joy and entertainment to Los Angeles residents and theatre lovers worldwide for decades.

Built in 1930, the theater is the last movie palace built in Hollywood as well as the last venue built by Alexander Pantages, the Greek American vaudeville and early motion picture producer. The Pantages survived many unforeseen obstacles throughout the years, such as the Great Depression and the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake. Through the ups and downs of the economy and the entertainment industry, the Pantages transpired as the major presenting house for Broadway on the West Coast.

“The tourists who come to Hollywood and to the Los Angeles area discover the Pantages, but when we have West Coast premieres like The Lion King, Wicked, or The Book of Mormon, they come here from all over the Western United States specifically for the shows,” said Pantages’ general manager Martin Wiviott in an interview with Broadway Direct. “Of course, once they are in Los Angeles, they are going to stay for two or three days, but the focal point of what they are doing is coming to the theatre.”

Steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Pantages remains a statute of old Hollywood. The theatre’s exterior features a streamlined marquee with attraction signs on three sides using large, translucent letters. Accompanying the dazzling marquee is a pink and turquoise vertical Pantages sign that is lighted by high-intensity neon. The grand foyer is studded with flush-mounted downlights; the box office sits off to the right and on the left side hangs a golden glass casing where previous or current theatre production show posters and press photos are displayed.

The outside of the theatre, as striking as it may be, does not compare to the detail and architecture of the interior. Whether one sits in the mezzanine or in floor seats, the architectural sophistication can be viewed and appreciated from all angles. Designed at the epitome of the Art Deco era, B. Marcus Priteca created a 2,703 seat theatre with intricate gold leaf ceilings, extravagant balconies, art-deco style chandeliers, and two gorgeous ornate staircases on each side of the theatre. During the remodel in 1960, all the theatre chairs were replaced with beautiful maroon mohair seating.

“I love this theater, it is just so beautiful,” said Angela DeDios, season ticket holder. “Yes, it is a little dated but that is part of its charm. You do not update perfection. I can seriously just sit in there and stare at its magnificence for hours.”

The electric feeling once inside the theatre results from the magical performances and events held at the Pantages. The annual Academy Award ceremonies were held at the Pantages throughout the 1950’s and the Emmy Awards were held there each year until 1977. The theatre has housed upward of 100 theatre productions. The easily transformable stage serves as a blank canvas to create a multitude of settings, time periods, and elaborate musical performances.

“I’ve seen many shows here that I have also seen on Broadway in New York,” said Nicole Mohr, theatre teacher and season ticket holder. “I love that the Pantages stage is so big that they can actually do cooler things with tour sets here than they do on stage in New York. Touring sets here are almost always better than the New York sets.”

The Pantages provides a transcendent experience to all who enter its glory, maintaining its reputation as one of Hollywood’s most treasured theatres.