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Warner Hollywood: stage




The Warner stage is backed into the northeast corner of the building. This main floor plan of the building has Hollywood Blvd. at the bottom, Wilcox Ave. at the left -- and the angled stage in the upper right corner. Note the long corridors heading off from stage right -- one for patron exits, one for stage loading access to Wilcox Ave. It's from the December 1928 issue of Architect and Engineer, available on Internet Archive.



A detail of the stage area from the Architect and Engineer plan. The organ lift, not indicated here, was on the house left end of the pit.

There are no vintage photos of the Warner's backstage areas that have surfaced yet. In the vintage auditorium views section you'll find one 1928 pre-opening look across the auditorium with a glimpse of the counterweight system T-wall off stage right, one view of the house right wall looking across the pit, and two shots across the foots into the auditorium.

 
Proscenium width: 50'

Stage width: It tapers seriously although you can go upstage 31' from the proscenium and still have 50' of clear width.

Centerline (at proscenium) to SL wall:  50'

Centerline (at proscenium) to SR wall: 54'

Stage depth: From the asbestos to the back wall at the centerline it's 50'

Smoke pocket SL to the back (side?) wall: 33' (to the lockrail)

Smoke pocket SR to back (side?) wall: 31'

Apron depth: formerly 3'

Orchestra pit: The pit width at centerline is 10'. It was covered over during the second Cinerama installation.

Pit lifts: There were screwjack lifts for the main portion of the pit as well as the organ console at the stage right end. The mechanism is still mostly in place for the pit lift. The organ lift has been removed in its entirety.

Stage floor: Wood upstage. Downstage is now concrete with a stepdown at the front where the Cinerama screen was installed. The curvature of the second Cinerama screen installation is visible behind the current screen installation.

Loading door: The main access is down a long passage on the north end of the building to Wilcox Ave. There are also smaller double doors both DSL and DSR.

Access to the stage from auditorium: Either stage left or stage right.

Backstage crossover: Yes. Basement stairs are both DSL and DSR.

Current main floor screen installation: It's a 60' wide screen with only a shallow curve. It's in front of a THX style infinite baffle -- a steel stud and drywall construction fitted into the proscenium arch.

Magnascope: There's still an old screen frame (possibly original equipment) hanging in the flies. It has motorized masking for sudden picture size enlargement for films utilizing the Magnascope process.

Current film capability: The equipment has been removed from both the main floor and upstairs booths.

Grid: Goes all the way upstage into the NE corner of the building. Linesets were not installed upstage where the stage tapers to less than 50' or so in width. Spotlines could, of course, have been used in that area. There was a counterweight installation on the plans for upstage but it was never installed.

Grid access: Ladder DSR from the flyfloor. Ladder also DSL.

Rigging: Lockrail is stage left at stage level. It's an Armstrong-Power Studios installation. It's all still intact. The lockrail only extends about half way upstage with 45 linesets total - 20 downstage of a
column, 25 sets upstage of the column. There are 4 lift lines per set.The lockrail also has brackets in front to handle belaying pins.

Due to the angle of the stage, the lockrail is at about a 45 degree angle to the battens. 2 additional wireguide sets near the dimmerboard were evidently for the screen frame (now hanging farther upstage) and possibly a second traveler.

Loading Bridge: Yes. Ladder down from the grid to reach it.

Flyfloor:  Stage right -- with a pinrail still in place.

Asbestos curtain: Still in place but currently inoperable due to the present screen installation. It appears that it's deadhung from the grid and all the associated rigging has been removed -- T track, arbor, release system.

Dimmer board: Major 10 scene pre-selective type, manufactured by Frank Adam Electric Co., St. Louis. Located downstage left.

Dimmer type: Both resistance and saturable reactor. The latter, used for some of the big auditorium lighting loads, require DC power to dim.

Motor Generator sets: Originally 2 for stage and booth use, a 70Kw unit and a 30Kw.  Many of the stage pockets could be switched between AC and DC using transfer switches on the clapper board in the basement. There's also a separate small MG set still in the clapper room to provide DC for the saturable reactor dimmers.

Stage lifts:  Nothing originally. There's one constructed of wood center stage -- added used to get items to the basement for storage. There's no evidence that a horn lift was installed -- evidently the speakers were rolled upstage for storage. Or on a trolley. The sound junction box is on the wall stage left, on the column that separates the two sections of the lockrail.

Organ: Marr and Colton, long ago removed.

Traps: A small one upstage right.

Dressing rooms: Some on several levels above stage on stage right. Many more in the basement along a corridor stage right.

Main building electrical service: In the basement stage left, just downstage of the proscenium wall. It's had lots of changes over the years including a new 3 phase 240V delta switchboard installed on the north end of the original board.



Looking toward upstage left and (at left) the meeting of the two stage walls upstage center. Upstage center is at the northeast corner of the building. Linesets aren't installed all the way upstage due to the taper, but the grid continues all the way into the corner. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Offstage right peeking into what probably was the house carpenter's or stage manager's office. Down a couple of steps at center and through the sliding fire door gets you into the auditorium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another view toward the lockrail stage left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



One of the vertical striplight arrays stage left - still gelled. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012


 
A closer view of the downstage portion of the counterweight installation. It's an Armstrong Power Studios installation. Their system guided the arbors on both the onstage and offstage edges, unlike the current standard T-wall system. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking downstage along the lockrail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The vista downstage left from upstage center in the "corner." Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Toward stage left from behind the steel stud framed screen assembly. Note the curved Cinerama screen line on the floor. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking downstage left toward the dimmerboard (at the center of the photo) and the screen assembly at right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking downstage along the lockrail toward the dimmerboard. No, there's no information as to what the gingerbread girl cutout was used for.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another view looking offstage toward the dimmerboard. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another view across the great stage toward stage left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



An illustration of the Warner's dimmerboard from the Frank Adam Electric Co. publication "Electrical Data on Three Major Theatres." Their terminology is to call this a "pilot board" as it controls the contactors on a board in the basement. They term that basement clapper board a "remote controlled switchboard." About the board on the stage: "Pilot Switchboard - Space on the stage was at a premium. Seventeen feet, six inches was the maximum space available for the pilot switchboard, but into this space was built what is probably the most compact and flexible stage switchboard ever built.

"The face of the pilot switchboard is of steel with maroon lacquer finish instead of the usual black finish. The pilot switchboard is provided with a total of 102 switching control units, 126 individual dimmer control levers, 12 master dimmer levers and hydraulic grand master dimmer drive. The total lighting load controlled by this switchboard is 674 kilowatts, of which 550 kilowatts are on dimmers. The dimmers are Cutler-Hammer resistor type, except where the capacity of the control unit is in excess of the maximum capacity of two dimmer plates (7200 watts). Reactance type dimmers are used where capacity is greater.

"Dimmer Controls - Cross-control dimming in each color of the stage illumination is another feature of the dimmer controls of the pilot switchboard. This feature is obtained through the use of a second dimmer drive shaft. Each individual operating lever is so arranged that it can be interlocked on either shaft. Each shaft has its color master dimmer lever and all of the master dimmer levers can be operated from the grand master control. It is therefore possible to increase the intensity of several groups of illumination in any color and at the same time reduce the intensity of others in the same color.

"A new development, hydraulic control, is provided for the grand master dimmer control. Through a clutch device operated from a lever on the face of the pilot switchboard, the grand master dimmer drive can be disconnected from the driving mechanism. This feature permits any master dimmer lever to be used as a grand master lever independent of the hydraulic control. The master control section is at the right end of the pilot switchboard as shown in the illustration and is nearest the proscenium opening. The pilot switchboard is placed at the left side of the opening and the switchboard operator can thus catch his cues and watch the action taking place.

"Control Unit - A control unit consists of the switching and dimming controls for a particular group of illumination. Each control unit normally occupies a space of 4 inches wide by 21 inches high on the face of the pilot switchboard. When the dimmer capacity is in excess of one dimmer plate, additional blank plates are provided adjacent to the control unit plates to cover the additional dimmer plate or plates. Each control unit consists of two beveled edge steel plates 4 inches by 10 1/2 inches upon which are mounted in the following sequence, beginning at the top, an indicating pilot light, a group of ten selector switches, name plate, rehearsal control switch and dimmer operating lever with slot closer. The ten selector switches are connected to the ten All Master show control pilot switches and provide for pre-selecting or setting up in advance of their presentation ten complete lighting scene changes. It is appropriate to mention here that the only current directly controlled through the selector switches and all-master show control switches is the operating current for the coils on the remote control switches.

"While it is possible to set up to ten complete lighting scene changes before the show, this number is not the maximum obtainable. With a little basic ingenuity on the part of the operator, and a study of his show requirements, as many as fifty-five different combinations can be worked out. This number is made possible by operating not more than two all-master switches at the same time. Through this feature we have termed this type of Frank Adam Major System the DeLuxe Type Ten All-Master Show Control System.

"Rehearsal Switch Control - The rehearsal switch control feature is a separate and distinct feature of control which can be used in conjunction with the All Master show control or independent of it. Through it, control of illumination during rehearsals is obtained without in any way affecting the ten pre-selected illumination effects. It also provides additional illumination effects by control through the color master and grand master controls.

"Extended Control - Through the rehearsal switch control feature extended control of any or all control units is obtained by setting up the control units on their respectice color master pilot switches and the color master switches in turn set up on the stage or house master pilot switches. Extended control of stage or house illumination is the obtained through the medium of an extension cord with plug and switch or a simple control switch elsewhere if the required wiring has been installed.

"Lighting Equipment - All of the stage lights, including the foots, proscenium strips, borderlights and balcony floods are of Major Equipment manufacture, wired in four colors and equipped with natural color glass filters. These stage lights require 134 kilowatts of electricity. The main dome of the auditorium is illuminated with Major floodlights and cove lights also equipped with natural color glass lenses. These require 103 kilowatts.  [ See the booth and attic page for pictures of catwalk along the main ceiling cove.]

"Cross Connecting Panel - There are 102 incandescent pockets and twenty-six arc pockets in the theatre. The incandescent pockets do not terminate at the switchboard as is customary, but are run to the cross-connecting panel where they terminate on sets of pins that dit the female end of a stage connector. Each pocket control unit from the pilot and contactor board also terminate on this panel on receptacles that fit the male end of a stage connector. By using jacks it is possible to put any pocket on any control unit which is a great help in working out a show, Also, it is not necessary to tie up expensive control units on pockets in out of the way places that are seldom used. This makes it possible to have the 102 pocket receptacles on 49 pocket control units. The installation is so arranged that it is impossible to place more than the rated load on any dimmer. This panel cross connects a load of 188 KW, all of which is controlled through dimmers.

"Magazine Panelboard - The magazine panelboard has a total of 350 circuits and is of the safety type, enclosed in a steel cabinet. It is mounted on the wall behind the pilot switchboard."

The Frank Adam publication also dealt with the Mosque in Richmond and the Stanley Theatre in Jersey City. It was in the collection of Lyman Brenneman and reprinted by the Theatre Historical Society in 1973. Thanks to Bob Foreman for making it available. His Vintage Theatre Catalogs site has a number of interesting items including a post of a Frank Adam/Major catalog from 1922 and a post of a 1952 Frank Adam catalog along with photos of earlier installations.



Stage left looking onstage along the length of the Major dimmerboard. Yes, the finish is indeed a dark maroon color. It's a Frank Adam Major 10 scene "pre-selective" board. The clapper room is in
the basement stage left, just downstage of the proscenium.  Pictures of it are on the stage basement page.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A detail of the top of the board. It's always nice to go backstage and see who the architect was right on the dimmerboard. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The offstage end of the dimmerboard -- and the stairs to the basement. There's also a doorway to the front of the auditorium off to the right. The exit doors straight ahead get you outside along the east side of the building for an exit to Hollywood Blvd.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Down the basement stairs offstage left.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



Out the double doors downstage left into the exit passageway. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The onstage edge of the dimerboard -- and the area where the lift controls once would have been. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The onstage side of the proscenium arch stage left (black) -- with all decorative plaster removed. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The view along the screen wall toward stage right.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking across downstage from stage left. At left, note the curved base for the Cinerama screen. Studs are still visible along the arc indicating where individual louvers were attached. This area was all done in concrete and is stepped down about 18" from the original stage level. The original wood stage floor remains in place upstage.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The stage area rebuilt for the Cinerama screen. Note the sawed off studs along the edge of the curve (still painted Cinerama Pink) that the vertical louvers of the screen were attached to. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The stage modifications for the Cinerama installation. The breaker panel in the photo above feeds curtain motor and masking motor circuits. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A view downstage. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A detail showing the former attachment points for the Cinerama screen louvers. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012


A gloomy vista up toward the grid. We're upstage left beyond the end of the counterweight battery. Looking up you can make out the loading bridge. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking up at the grid from downstage left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012
 


The upstage "point" where the walls meet at the centerline. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking up from downstage left along the T-wall to the grid. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



Offstage right -- looking at a vertical striplight and the upstage corridor to the Wilcox Ave. loading door. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another offstage right look toward the loading doors on Wilcox. At right is the north wall of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Offstage right -- out through the doors toward Wilcox. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

 

Deeper out into the corridor off right toward Wilcox. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



A small storage loft downstage right. The flyfloor is up above us. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Onstage looking up toward the stage right flyfloor. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



Gazing down from the flyfloor stage right. Note the concrete area indicating the curve of the Cinerama screen. At right is the steel stud THX-style speaker wall installed within the proscenium arch.The current screen is much shallower (as well as smaller) than the Cinerama installation was. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The pinrail up on the flyfloor stage right. We're looking upstage -- the stage is out to the right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



From the flyfloor -- another vista looking across the great stage. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



On the stage right flyfloor: a ladder up to the grid. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The top of the proscenium from the flyfloor. The wrinkled thing is the bottom of the asbestos curtain -- lifted above the proscenium to make way for the steel stud construction within the arch. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012


A view down a bit lower showing construction of the steel stud screen assembly built into the proscenium arch. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking upstage center from the stage right flyfloor. On the right side we see an old screen frame. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The masking motor on the screen frame. The frame (probably 1928 original equipment) has masking controls for Magnascope presentations in the box in the center of the photo. The frame is currently hanging mid stage. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another view looking down from the flyfloor. We're looking upstage.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The stairway from the stage right flyfloor and organ chamber back down to stage level. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



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