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Saturday: LATHF's All About the Palace

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, at 01:04PM
The Palace stands in for Detroit. Ed Fuentes

The Palace marquee sports the name of the Detroit theatre during 2006 filming for the movie "Dreamgirls."

This Saturday, February 28, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation continues its tour of Broadway's historic theatres, inviting all interested to come and learn "All About the Palace."

The venue, opened in 1911, was the home of the Orpheum Vaudeville circuit before the organization moved down the street in 1926. The circuit moved down the street in 1926, to the venue still known as the Orpheum. The 1911 theatre, renamed the Palace, then took turns showing newsreels, silents and first-run features.

Today the theatre sits empty, but has a busy life as a venue for film shoots. The Palace played a heavy role in the film Dreamgirls. The shoot even replaced the neon on the marquee, rebranding the theatre as the Detroit.

To get a better feel for the venue, we sent some questions over to Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Executive Director Hillsman Wright.

ERIC RICHARDSON: This is your fourth "All About" event, after showing people the Million Dollar, the Orpheum and the Globe. Each one has a distinct look and feel. What's your favorite feature at the Palace?

HILLSMAN WRIGHT: The original seating capacity (around 2200) belies the fact that it is a very "intimate" theatre. No seat is more than 80' from the stage.

ER: What's something cool about the Palace that most Downtowners might not know?

HW: At 98 years old, it is the oldest surviving theatre of the national Orpheum vaudeville circuit and was designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, who also designed the Orpheum and El Capitan.

ER: With its larger stage and dressing rooms, the Palace seems to be a great target for bringing back live entertainment. In a perfect world, what would you like to see in the theater?

HW: With an expansion of the Lobby and public areas possible in the basement, restoring the boxes and re-opening the Gallery, the Palace could be a Broadway road house for the gods. While The Lion King would never fit at the Palace, there are lots of other shows that would - along with opera, ballet and concerts.


Saturday's event is free, and starts at 10:30am. Doors open at 10am. More information is available on the LAHTF website.

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