Saban Theatre has been entertaining audiences since 1930, when it was one of old Hollywood's premiere film palaces. The art deco theatre, then named the Fox Wilshire, attracted its fair share of cinema legends. In 1953, the stars of Hollywood turned out for the premiere of Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall's film, ¬How to Marry a Millionaire. Walt Disney arrived at the theater later that year to exhibit the fist widescreen Donald Duck cartoon, which required subtitles for non-avian audience members.
In 1981, the theater's owners chose to shift from film to live performance. They renovated the building, converted the auditorium into a stage venue, and changed the name to Saban Theatre. Since then, the venue has hosted performances from the likes of Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, and Sting. Even with its modern headliners, the theater still echoes Tinsel Town's Golden Age with its ornate plasterwork and grand sculptures.
The Troubadour opened in 1957. In September of that same year, Lenny Bruce took to its stage and was arrested on charges of obscenity. The venue has been an unstoppable force in the entertainment industry ever since. Neil Young played his LA debut there in 1969, and in 1970, Neil Diamond introduced a fresh new act from the UK: Elton John. Prince performed two surprise shows in 2011 on a 21-night performance streak through LA that only stopped when he figured out how to turn his amp off. Today, The Troubadour continues to prove a favorite stage for world-renowned musicians and up-and-comers alike.
On Halloween 1940, hundreds of couples clad in suits and cocktail gowns flooded into a brand-new concert hall. Bas-relief pillars and crushed-velvet curtains flanked a bandstand that today would seem comically small, its curves echoed in a series of sweeping, backlit circles rippling across the ceiling and ending in a wrap-around balcony where guests could look down on the sea of elegantly coiffed heads. But most importantly, there was lots and lots of room to dance.
That’s remained true in the many decades since the Hollywood Palladium’s grand opening. Over the years, the venue has hosted everyone from Black Flag and The Ramones to The Offspring and Jay-Z, and though a flashy modern light and video system now fills the stage, it still looks out on a massive dance floor lit by anachronistic chandeliers. Of course, guests might well guess at this blend of modern spectacle and old-school panache just from the venue’s façade, whose enormous neon letters, powered by the motor of a 1955 Cadillac, tower above the marquee’s list of the big names on deck that week.
Founded on the principle that movies work best as social experiences, The Cinefamily devotes itself to finding and sharing weird and wonderful films during limited-run screenings and one-off special events. Currently averaging 14 shows per week, the movie house enhances many screenings with celebrity appearances, live music performances, and social activities such as potlucks and snipe hunts. From the theater’s cushy seats and leather couches, guests can take in pristine views of horror films, cult classics, and even TV favorites. Past events have included a month-long film retrospective of Dennis Hopper’s illustrious acting career, a Czech film festival featuring a screening of the surrealist and ultimately banned Daisies, and a celebration of director John Cassavetes featuring appearances by his frequent collaborators Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara.
In the course of their four-decade-long journey of crossover musical innovation, Earth, Wind & Fire have garnered multiple Grammy awards and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A tuneful panoply of styles including funk, soul, jazz, R & B, and pop are poured into a sonic stew of rhythms and stirred by EWF’s powerful horn section and African-influenced, weather-altering rhythms. The band’s 40th-anniversary tour culls tunes from EWF’s expansive polyrhythmic repertoire of falsetto-laced Top 40 hits and era-defining classics including “Serpentine Fire” and “Getaway.” With a Grammy-winning voice of his own, special guest Aaron Neville will join the band to soothe troubled minds with songs about faith, love, and mortgage-backed securities.
iO West Theater presents improv and sketch-comedy shows and, along with its comedy-sister, the iO Chicago Theater, has served as a training ground for some of America's best entertainers, including Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, and Eric Stonestreet. The theater's main stage (must be age 21+ to attend) features shows such as Top Story! Weekly, a 60-minute written show touching on America's newsliest items ($5 per ticket), and The Armando Show, 90 minutes worth of improv ripped from the monologue of a celebrity guest ($10 per ticket). There are also all-ages shows at Del Close Theater and The Loft. Across all stages, performers make up situations and details as they go along, and what hilarity emerges is a result of training, audience suggestion, and underlying psychological issues. Call ahead to reserve tickets to fill your empty soul with mirth.