Mission Playhouse – San Gabriel, CA

Mission Playhouse – San Gabriel, CA

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

San Gabriel, CA

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

History

The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is a magnificent and opulent theater steeped in history, complete with tapestries presented by the King of Spain, a beautifully carved and painted ceiling, a fully operational Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, and chandeliers that replicate the lanterns used on Spanish galleons which sailed around the tip of South America en route to California in the 1800’s.

Dedicated on March 5th, 1927, this lavish facility was built by John Steven McGroarty for his famed Mission Play. The world-renowned production told the dramatic story of the founding of the California missions by the Franciscan Fathers under the leadership of Father Junipero Serra.

After the end of the 1932 season and an astounding 3,198 performances, the effects of the depression, plus an attempt to produce it on Broadway, ended the long run of the play. A re-imagined version of the play was presented in April 2013 as part of the City’s Centennial Celebrations.

This landmark structure was soon returned to the holders of the mortgage where its future was in doubt. During the ensuing decade, the Mission Playhouse served as a movie theater. Then, during the severe housing shortage that occurred while WWII was being fought, the Playhouse dressing rooms were used as apartments.

It was in the mid 1940′s that a group of San Gabriel residents formed a citizen’s committee whose goal was to see the Playhouse purchased by the City. Although the first initiative was turned down by the voters in April of 1945, it was successfully passed in August of that year at which time the City purchased the Mission Playhouse and renamed it the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. On September 26, 2007, the City renamed the theater again back to the original name.

Today, the theater looks much as it did when the Mission Play was in production. The architectural style is Spanish, with Mexican and Native American influences apparent in the decor. The facade, designed to resemble McGroarty’s favorite mission, San Antonio de Padua in Monterey County, is clearly the most identifiable aspect of the building and can be seen for miles.

The Wurlitzer Theatre Organ is one of the finest in the country. Originally built in 1927 in New York, this magnificent instrument was donated to the Playhouse in 1968 and was fully restored in 2009 with the aid of a generous donation from the Peter Crotty Charitable Foundation.

Excerpt from: http://missionplayhouse.org/

Video

Location

The Warner Theatre

809 State Street Erie, PA 16501
(814) 453-7117
Website: http://eriewarnertheatre.com/

 

  • Location:320 South Mission Drive
    San Gabriel, CA 91776
  • Phone: (626) 308-2865
  • Website: http://missionplayhouse.org/

Saban Theatre – Beverly Hills, CA

Saban Theatre – Beverly Hills, CA

The Saban Theater

Los Angeles, California

History

The Saban Theatre is a historic theatre in Beverly Hills, California, formerly known as the Fox Wilshire Theater. It is an Art Deco structure at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hamilton Drive designed by architect S. Charles Lee and is considered a classic Los Angeles landmark. Located on Wilshire Boulevard, the exterior of the building with its simple Art Deco ornamentation is one of the first buildings seen by pedestrians and drivers entering the eastern boundary of the city of Beverly Hills.

The Saban Theatre has been both a significant cultural and architectural landmark for Los Angeles and Beverly Hills since its opening as the Fox Wilshire Theatre on September 19, 1930. It was originally designed with 2500 seats by noted theatre architect S. Charles Lee to be a major film presentation house, even including a stage for Vaudeville acts before the films.

Over its 85-year history, the Saban has been the site of numerous film premieres, exclusive first-run film engagements, live concerts and touring Broadway shows. Despite several renovations, the interior remains mostly intact with its columned two-story rotunda lobby, spacious orchestra and balcony level seating for 2,000, and its silver, gold and black proscenium and organ screens. The connection with architect S. Charles Lee, a long-time resident of the city of Beverly Hills, makes the Saban significant also as an example of Lee’s transition from the French Regency style of the Tower Theatre and other Los Angeles Theatres to the nascent Art Deco style that would come to dominate movie palace architecture in the 1930s.

The Saban Theatre opened as the Fox Wilshire Theatre and for several decades was one of 20th Century Fox’s premiere theaters, serving as a movie palace until a 1981 renovation converted it into a stage venue. It was operated by the Nederlander Organization from 1981 to 1989. It is now regularly used as a live performance venue for comedy, music, television, film shoots, screenings, and community intercultural events such as PaleyFest. Temple of the Arts has owned and operated the theatre since 2005.In March 2009, owners announced that the Wilshire would be renamed the Saban Theatre in recognition of a $5 million grant from Haim and Cheryl Saban. The funds have been used to further restoration efforts on the orchestra,

In March 2009, owners announced that the Wilshire would be renamed the Saban Theatre in recognition of a $5 million grant from Haim and Cheryl Saban. The funds have been used to further restoration efforts on the orchestra, proscenium, and marquee. It also houses programs by Temple of the Arts, which aims to integrate the arts and Judaism.

Beverly Hills Performing Arts Center led the movement to have the city of Beverly Hills create a Historic Preservation Ordinance passing the Mills Act, which supports historic theatres. BHPAC secured placement of the venue on The Federal and State Registry of Historic Places and designation of the theatre as a Beverly Hills landmark. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 3, 2012.

Wikipedia

Location

The Saban Theatre

 

Intolerance movie set, 1916

The Fox Wilshire 1930 Premiere of Animal Crackers

Opening night at the Lou Bard Playhouse, 1923

The Fox Theatre main curtain

Paramount – Oakland, CA

Paramount – Oakland, CA

The Paramount Theatre

Oakland, CA

The Paramount Theatre


Oakland’s Paramount Theatre is one of the finest remaining examples of Art Deco design in the United States. Designed by renowned San Francisco architect Timothy L. Pflueger and completed in late 1931, it was one of the first Depression-era buildings to incorporate and integrate the work of numerous creative artists into its architecture and is particularly noteworthy for its successful orchestration of the various artistic disciplines into an original and harmonious whole.

Construction was initiated by Publix Theatres, the exhibiting organization of Paramount Pictures. Although financial difficulties forced the sale of the uncompleted building to Fox-West Coast Theatres, the firm that completed the theatre and operated it until it closed on September 15, 1970, the name “Paramount” was retained.

After its initial brief blaze of “movie palace” glory in the 1930’s, this remarkable auditorium suffered three decades of neglect and decline until its rescue by the Oakland Symphony, the City of Oakland and numerous private donors. The building was purchased by the Board of Directors of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra Association in 1972. A painstaking and authentic restoration was completed in 1973 and the theatre was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on August 14th of that year.

In 1975 the City of Oakland, the present owner, assumed ownership from the Oakland Symphony Orchestra Association. The Paramount Theatre became a California Registered Historic Landmark in 1976, and on May 5, 1977, was declared a National Historic Landmark.

Restored to its original splendor, meticulously maintained, and fully upgraded to modern technical standards, the Paramount now serves all the arts. The Paramount Theatre is the home of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and, as one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premiere performing arts facilities, hosts a year-round schedule of popular music concerts, variety shows, theatre, and – of course – movies.

(From The Paramount Theatre Website)

The Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
24-HOUR HOTLINE: 510-465-6400
Administration: 510-893-2300

Website: http://www.paramounttheatre.com/

 

Fox Theatre – Oakland, CA

Fox Theatre – Oakland, CA

The Fox Theater

Oakland, California

History

The Fox Oakland Theatre is a 2,800-seat concert hall, a former movie theater, located at 1807 Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland, California. It originally opened in 1928, running films until 1970. Designed by Weeks and Day, the theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was refurbished in the 2000s and reopened as a concert venue on February 5, 2009.

History
Originally intended to be named “The Bagdad” because of its Middle Eastern influenced architecture, the theater instead displayed the name “The Oakland” on the marquee, with the word “Oakland” forming the main portion of the vertical blade sign above the marquee. It was also known as the “West Coast Oakland”. The Oakland became the 251st theater to open in the West Coast Theater chain. Opening day was October 27, 1928, after two years of construction. The opening celebration was highly anticipated by the Bay Area residents, as the theater’s 3,200 seats made it the largest in Oakland, more than the nearby Orpheum which held 2,561, and more than the new 1075-seat Dufwin which had opened three weeks earlier. The first film shown at the Oakland was Fox’s The Air Circus, an early sound film. Live performances took place on stage between films and newsreels, including “King of the Banjo” Eddie Peabody. House Music was provided by the Hermie King band with 20 members, and by an organist playing the house organ, a Wurlitzer Opus 1960 with 3 manuals and 15 ranks of pipes. A staff of 150 was required to run the theater.

In March 1929, the theater was renamed the “Fox Oakland” when William Fox bought the West Coast Theatres chain and merged it with his Fox Theatres chain. The launch of the Fox was expected to earn high earnings in the downtown district. Reestablishing the movie industry, the Fox offered the opportunity to stray from the silent films and helped introduce the “talkies” by having a live stage show.

Years of Closure
Attendance significantly dropped in the 1960s and on September 14, 1965, the Fox closed, “temporarily,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The movie … which will be shown on the Fox Oakland’s last day is the Marlon Brando spy melodrama, Morituri”. During the next seven years, the theater opened sporadically for movies and special events, but never found a market that could support the required overhead and maintenance. In 1973 the theater building was twice the victim of arson after the owner refused to hire a quota of Black Panthers and pay for their “protection”. In 1977 the theater was used during the filming of the horror film Nightmare in Blood directed by John Stanley. In 1983 and 1984 the Dickens Fair used the theater for Victorian England reenactments, setting up a mock village.

By 1975 the building was in such disrepair that the City’s Public Works Department presented a plan for the City to purchase the property, demolish the building, and create a parking lot. However, their plans floundered and on Jan. 24 1978 the Mann Theater Group sold the theater at auction to Mario and Erma DeLucchi for $340,000. A few months after the purchase, Mr. DeLucchi died of a heart attack and plans for a restoration of the theater never took off. With the support of Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson, the building was designated an Oakland City Landmark in 1978 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year.

Restoration
In 1996, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency bought the building for $3 million. In 1999 a group of concerned citizens formed the Friends of The Oakland Fox and some badly needed restoration work began. In December 2004, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency received a $2.9 million grant for further restoration of the theater.

When mayor Jerry Brown needed to find a new home for the Oakland School for the Arts, a charter high school dedicated to the arts, the task fell to the Redevelopment Staff who conceived of the idea of placing the school in the retail and office space that surrounded, and were part of, the Fox Theatre building. Restoring and reopening the theater in a shared use plan with the school was quickly championed by local developer Phil Tagami. Friends of the Oakland Fox played a role with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency in raising funding for the elaborate $75 million restoration process.

Reopening
February 2009 marked the beginning of a new era for the Fox. After being neglected for forty years, the once glamorous theater made its comeback as a 2,800-seat concert hall. Accentuating its revival, the theater’s grand opening night featured a “roaring twenties” theme celebrating the newly renovated theater. The Oakland Fox Theatre now serves as a school, restaurant, and prominent live concert venue. It has hosted many concerts by artists such as B.B. King, Paul Simon, Korn, Kylie Minogue, The Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, Bob Dylan, Green Day, twenty one pilots, Marina and the Diamonds, Metallica, Primus, Alice in Chains, Atoms For Peace, Black Star, Lorde, Animal Collective, X Japan, The Decemberists, and Van Morrison since 2009. President Barack Obama spoke at the Fox during his 2012 Reelection Campaign.

New Features
The Oakland Fox Theatre is the home of the Oakland School for the Arts, a charter school founded in 2002 which enrolls students from 6-12th grade specializing in the arts. In 2011 Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe opened their second location in the building, it is co-owned by Green Day’s Mike Dirnt.

Architecture
With terracotta, rich colors, intricate gold accents, and distinctive dome, the theater’s design redefined architecture in the 1920s. The interior of the Fox Theatre was delicately crafted and said to be described as “mystical”. With its intriguing resemblance to an Indian temple, the Fox Theatre was a fascinating attribute to downtown Oakland. At this time, theaters across the nation strived to be more than just a typical building. The designs of various theaters were inspired greatly by Middle Eastern and Indian architecture.

Wikipedia

Location

The Fox Theater

 

  • Opened: 1928
  • Architect: ?
  • Location: 1807 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, California 94612
  • Phone:  (510) 302-2250
  • Website: http://www.thefoxoakland.com/
Intolerance movie set, 1916
Opening night at the Lou Bard Playhouse, 1923

Currand Theatre – San Francisco, CA

Currand Theatre – San Francisco, CA

The Curran Theater

San Francisco, California

History

Homer Curran operated another theater with his name for several years prior to building this Curran Theatre; however, the original Curran Theatre had various names before and after this time, whereas this Curran Theatre has never had another name. It opened in February 1922 and was initially a Shubert house. Later, it was a showcase for Theatre Guild presentations. Subsequently, it became closely associated with the Civic Light Opera (CLO), which also operated in Los Angeles. The CLO obtained numerous prestigious bookings as well as produced their own shows, often with stars as the lead roles. Curran wrote the book for the musical Song of Norway and co-wrote the book for Magdalena. He eventually left San Francisco for southern California, where he rented theatrical lighting.

For many years, the San Francisco Opera performed its annual “Spring Opera” series at the Curran.
In 1977, the Civic Light Opera shifted its operations to the Orpheum Theatre, and by the end of that year, Carole Shorenstein Hays and James M. Nederlander assumed operation of the Curran and launched their Best of Broadway season starting with John Raitt in the national tour of Shenandoah and including the West Coast debut of Annie. Later, Shorenstein changed the name of her organization to SHN, which continues to operate the Curran.

The theatre closed in September 2015 for renovations. Work included new upholstery for seats, carpeting, mechanical and electrical systems as well as expanded and upgraded lobbies. While work was underway, the theatre presented non-traditional works in a series called Under Construction in which the audience entered and was seated on the stage. The Curran reopened January 25, 2017, with the musical Fun Home.

The ceiling above the main lobby was hand-painted to look like wood (steel wool was used to fashion a wood grain effect in the plaster before painting). The main lobby has a marble floor but has long since been covered by carpeting. There are “plugs” built into the lobby floor in which to insert stanchions from which theater ropes were hung to section off the lobby. The loge section was modified prior to Hello, Dolly!’s first booking at the theater. Originally, the loge section was similar to the boxes, with movable chairs in sectioned areas. The box-like loges are still evident by what remains of the metal railings in front of the loge section as well as the decorative plaster when viewed from below. The change was made because it increased the seating capacity by about ten seats in this highly desirable area. The interior main floor lobby no longer exists. Originally, it was changed to a minor degree to accommodate the installation of a sound booth without decreasing the orchestra seating capacity. Eventually, the lobby space was used to install a larger bar area as well as accessible restrooms.

The theater has two front curtains: the decorative green fire curtain in front of a gold curtain. When musicals traditionally utilized each theater’s front curtains, the first curtain would be raised five minutes prior to the start of the show. There were two coat check rooms: one off to the south of the main floor interior lobby and the other on the balcony (adjacent to the ladies’ restroom). There were also two telephone “booths” on the mezzanine lobby—one on each side of the windows. These booths were actually very small rooms with formal doors. The coat check rooms and telephone booths are now used for storage. The theater also had a central vacuum system. This system is still evident by the connection points on the walls, near the floor. The chandelier was built in San Francisco. A plaque honoring Arthur Mayer is mounted at the entrance to boxes L-M-N. Mayer watched the theater being built, was hired by Curran as part of the theater’s opening-night staff, and continued working at the theater until he was nearly 100 years old.

Wikipedia

Location

The Curran Theater

 

  • Opened: 1922
  • Architect:
  • Location:  445 Geary Street San Francisco, California 94102
  • Phone:  (415) 358-1220
  • Website: https://sfcurran.com/
Intolerance movie set, 1916

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