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Las Palmas Theatre

1642 N. Las Palmas Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028
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The Las Palmas Theatre has had a number of different lives since the 30s including stints as a legit theatre and movie house. It's now a music club. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

Website: www.soundnightclub.com

Opened:  The building, originally a market, dates from 1927. It was remodeled in 1936 into a playhouse named the Hollywood Little Theatre. Joe Vogel, on Cinema Treasures, found a Daily Variety item noting that in June 1941 it was being called the Hollywood Troupers Theatre.

In 1943 it was branded Dante’s Troupers Theater for a run of about six months of the touring magic show "Sim Sala Bim" starring Dante (Harry Jansen).  By 1944 it had become the Playtime Theatre.  Sometime before 1947 it got the Las Palmas name.

Seating: Estimates range from 388 to 600. It was listed as 388 in 1949.



The delightful paper ephemera collection of Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr includes this ad for the revue "Insults of 1944" at the Playtime Theatre. The ad appeared in an issue of Playgoer magazine distributed at the Biltmore. Thanks, Eric!

The Las Palmas was a noted legit venue for many years. The Hume Cronyn production of Tennessee Williams' "Portrait of a Madonna" starring Jessica Tandy played at the theatre in the mid-40s. In 1946 the Actors Lab leased the Las Palmas for productions of "Volpone," "Awake and Sing," "Home of the Brave" (with Barbara Bel Geddes) and Gogol's "The Inspector General."

In 1947 the theatre got a remodel and was then briefly a film house. Ken McIntyre found a mention in an LA Times article dated May 10: "...Reopening Thursday night as a picture theater in a blaze of glory and lights, with any number of film celebrities present, and with handsome new decorations and freshly upholstered seats, Las Palmas is showing 'Nais,' a French-made film with English subtitles adapted from Emile Zola’s 'Nais Macoulin.' Stars present at the premier included Claudette Colbert, Charles Boyer, Denise Billincord, J. Carrol Naish, Marla Montez, Robert Stack and others."



Carol Channing made her west coast debut at the Las Palmas in the 1948 revue "Lend an Ear," directed by Gower Champion. The show, with words and music by Charles Gaynor, also featured Gene Nelson. It later moved to Broadway playing for 460 performances and led to Channing's casting in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding this L.A. Times ad for the show.



The program cover for "Lend An Ear," from the now-vanished site TheaterPrint.

The next show up at the Las Palmas was "Tongue in Cheek," not a success.  In 1951 Arthur Kennedy took over the house for a repertory season. In 1954 the show "That's Life" had a good run.

"The Billy Barnes Revue" played the theatre in 1958. The show, with music and lyrics by Barnes, featured Joyce Jameson, Bert Convy, and Ken Berry. The L.A. run was followed by a transfer to Off-Broadway, then to Broadway (for 87 performances), then another Off-Broadway run. In 1964 Barnes was back at the Las Palmas with "Billy Barnes' Hollywood."

Productions in 1968 included a run of the two one-acts "The Private Ear" and "The Public Eye."  The rock musical "Salvation" had a run c.1970.

The theatre  began running adult films in the early 1970's. By 1972 it was an automated gay porno house -- you'd put a $5 bill in the slot and go through a turnstyle. Matt Spero notes that when the theatre was running films in the 70s it was via rear projection with a booth set up onstage. The projection booth at the rear of the auditorium installed in 1947 had been removed sometime earlier.

Thanks to Steven Otto for remembering the 1974 first run booking of the John Waters film "Female Trouble at the Las Palmas. He found an article about the 1974 renovation and reopening written by Ralph Tribbey, at the time the VP of a small southern California theatre circuit of about 30 screens that had taken over the theatre. The president of the chain had, as Ralph says, "some interesting contacts in the entertainment business" and some "equally 'interesting' contacts when it came to taking over certain theatres." He tells the story in a post about the documentary "I Am Divine" on the blog DVD & Blu-Ray Release Report:

"....One such theatre that did come our way was the Las Palmas in Hollywood — between Hollywood Blvd. and Selma. At the time it was a gay porn venue of somewhat dubious operating procedures, but he [the company's president] envisioned this uniquely located cinema as being the west coast version of the Bleecker Street Cinema. It would become the greatest art house venue in Hollywood! We closed it down, cleaned it up and did a little remodeling. The day quickly came to reopen the place with the Hollywood premiere of 'Female Trouble,' directed by the cult filmmaker John Waters and starring the great Divine.

"Since the Las Palmas was destined to be the next Bleecker Street Cinema, it was decided that we’d rip a page from the playbook of the nearby Grauman's Chinese Theatre. A four-by-four foot chunk of sidewalk in front of the theatre was jackhammered out and four inches of fresh concrete was poured (all without permits) late in the afternoon on the day of the film’s grand opening. The plan was for Divine to place her hand and feet impressions in the fresh cement for future visitors to marvel at. It was a good plan, but …

"We got the necessary permit to have Las Palmas closed between Hollywood Blvd. on the north and Selma Avenue on the south. We even had a Klieg light rolled up in front of the place and as the sun set it lit up the sky … a large crowd of curious onlookers began to gather. Many more than anticipated!!! At the appropriate moment a trash truck lumbered up Las Palmas and stopped in front of the theatre. The hydraulics kicked in and the entire backend suddenly opened up to reveal eight Cycle Sluts — men dressed in leather, bustiers and fishnet costumes — who came pouring out and began dancing and prancing around the street. The crowd went wild. They would be the honor guard for Divine.

"Next came the limo with our honored guest. It pulled up in front of the theatre. One of the motorcycle cops, who we were required to have there to provide security, opened the door to her limo and out she stepped, turned … and walked right through the fresh cement! It was a disaster! No feet or hand impressions, but a path of complete destruction leading to the open doors of the theatre. I can, however, report that Divine was a good sport about it. The premiere went well, but alas the Las Palmas didn’t become the next Bleecker Street and we soon closed it up. Over the years it would become all sorts of things … eventually gutted and turned into different clubs."  


Cycle Sluts at the premiere. Thanks to Ralph Tribbey for the photo.

There was a fire in March 1977 but the place was patched up and soon back in business. L.A. Stage Co. was a tenant in the early 80s. "Pump Boys and Dinettes" had a good run in 1986 and 87. It was later used as a music club by a number of different operators.

Stage specs: 
Proscenium width:  29'8"    Height: 11'2"    Stage wall to wall: 39'4"    Fly lines: none
Footlights to curtain: 1'     Curtain to backwall: 20'     Dressing rooms: 2 

The data is from the 1949 ATPAM Theatre, Arena and Auditorium Guide. Thanks to Bob Foreman for posting the contents of the book on his blog Vintage Theatre Catalogs.

The Las Palmas in the Movies:  Scott Favareille notes that the theatre is seen in the Carlos Tobalina film "Reflections in Love" (1971). A scene in front of the theatre with a crowd watching fire dancers perform gives us a look at the marquee advertising "I Am Curious Tahiti," another Tobalina film.



The theatre, along with many other Hollywood locations, is seen in "Angel" (New World Pictures, 1984). Thanks to Toomas Losin for this screenshot looking down the alley north of the theatre where a chase scene in the film ends. The shot is on his page Angel Filming Locations Part 1. The film stars Cliff Gorman, Susan Tyrrell, Dick Shawn and Rory Calhoun. Donna Wilkes is the 15 year old high school student by day, hooker by night. At the time of the shooting in the summer of 1983 the show at the theatre was "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You."

"Angel" also gives us looks at the Chinese, the Chinese Twin, the El Capitan (as the Paramount) Ritz (as the Pussycat), Vogue, Warner (as the Hollywood Pacific), Vine and Pantages theatres. See Angel Filming Locations Part 3 for lots of screenshots.

Don Soloson notes on Cinema Treasures that the Las Palmas appears in “The Hidden” (New Line Cinema, 1987) as the Harem Room where Claudia Christian works as a stripper. We get many shots up and down the street. The film, about an alien parasite infecting human bodies that then go on a crime spree in Los Angeles, also stars Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri.

Status: The theatre is now back in business (again) as a nightclub called Sound.



A 1951 Michael Ochs view of the Las Palmas at night. The photo is from Getty Images. It's also indexed on Google Images.



A mid-60s look down Las Palmas Ave. from Hollywood Blvd. It's a photo by Kolchak Ans that once appeared on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. Thanks to David Zornig for spotting it and including it on the Cinema Treasures page on the Las Palmas.



A photo of the theatre in the 70s thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Granola. It's on the site's page about the Las Palmas.



A 1982 photo taken when the L.A. Stage Co. was mounting their productions at the Las Palmas. Thanks to the amazing Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for the photo. Also in the collection is a 1972 facade view.



Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this undated view of the Las Palmas on Photos of Los Angeles.



The theatre in 2005. Thanks to Ken Roe for his photo on Flickr.



Thanks to Toomas Losin for this 2006 photo, appearing on his web page Angel Filming Locations Part 3, about theatres appearing in the 1984 film "Angel." 



The marquee soffit in 2012. It's a Ken McIntyre photo on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



An entrance view with the building between tenants. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the 2012 post on Photos of Los Angeles.



The theatre as the Sound nightclub. It's a May 2016 Google Maps view. Head there for the interactive version.

More information: See the Las Palmas page on Cinema Treasures for lots of stories.

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