Opened: August 16, 1947 by Frieda Berkoff, a member of a famous Russian dancing family. The location is two blocks north of Beverly Blvd. The 1950s photo of the Coronet by Danny Rouzer is from the Tim Lanza Collection. It once appeared on the Largo at the Coronet website. In addition to the main theatre space, the building housed other rehearsal halls as well as acting and dance studios.
The Coronet has been mostly famous as a legit venue, hosting over 300 productions. It opened with the world premiere of Bertolt Brecht's "Galileo" directed by Joseph Losey and starring Charles Laughton. This was followed by the west coast premiere of Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth." In February 1948 the theatre opened a production of "The Stone Jungle" directed by Lloyd Bridges and featuring a very young Russ Tamblyn. Russ talks about it in a "Here's the Thing" podcast.
The theatre had a long history as a home for experimental film. Paul Ballard's Hollywood Film Society found a new home at the Coronet in the late 40s. Kenneth Anger showed some of his early works there. In 1950 Raymond Rohauer took over the operation with his "Society of Cinema Arts" and "Coronet Louvre" programming with daily screenings of classics, experimental and foreign films. Programs at this "one man cinematheque" changed three times a week. After nearly a decade at the Coronet, Rohauer moved on the what is now the New Beverly. Manohla Dargis, in a November 6, 2011 New York Times article "Laboring in the Shadow of Hollywood" calls the theatre's years under Rohauer "legendary."
In 1961 the world premiere of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Conversations at Midnight" was at the Coronet. The theatre was home to Ray Bradbury's Pandemonium Theatre Co. in the 60s.
In December 1968 the Coronet was the venue for the west coast premiere of John Herbert's "Fortune and Men's Eyes." The regular run opened January 1969 and ran until July. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the program. See his Noirish Los Angeles post #50030 for several inside pages.
Ms. Berkoff, then Frieda Berkoff Gellis, continued to operate the the building until 1976 when, due to illness, she turned it over to her daughter Petrie Gellis Robie. Frieda died in 1991.
From 1981 to 1988 the building was home to L.A. Public Theatre, directed by Peg Yorkin. From 1990 to 1994 it was programmed by Serendipity Theatre Co., a children's theatre operation. In 1996 Robie sold the building for $1.7 million to Deborah Del Prete and Gigi Pritzker of Dee Gee Entertainment. They continued to book legit shows and added a 99 seat second venue in former office space.
Operating it until 2008, some of the productions that the team booked included A.R. Gurney's "Sylvia" (1997), "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change" (1998), "When Pigs Fly" (1999), "The Vagina Monologues" (2000), "Puppetry of the Penis" (2004), "Snoopy The Musical" (2002) and Jonathan Larsen’s "Tick…Tick…Boom" (2006).
Seating: 267 + 99 in a second black box space
Main house Stage Specs:
Proscenium width: 39'
Proscenium height: 13'
Curtain to footlights: 3' 6"
Curtain to backwall: 30'
Linesets: None -- what rigging there was used hemp
Grid height: 17' 9"
Theatre location: upstairs
The data appeared in the 1949 edition of the ATPAM Theatre, Arena and Auditorium Guide. Thanks to Bob Foreman for posting the publication on his Vintage Theatre Catalogs blog. They noted that the rent at the time was $500 per week.
The Coronet in music videos:
The exterior of the theatre is seen in several shots of "Our Lips Are Sealed" from the Go-Gos' 1981 album "Beauty and the Beat." It's on YouTube. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting the theatre. It's unknown where the stage views were shot -- perhaps also at the Coronet.
Status: Since 2008 the theatre has been the home of Mark Flanagan's Largo at the Coronet, featuring comedy and music performances. The Largo had earlier been in a smaller facility at 423 N. Fairfax.
Phone: 310-855-0350 Website: www.largo-la.com
The Coronet Theatre. Photo: Google Maps - c.2010
More information: Petrie Robie, the daughter of Frieda Berkoff, has started a Friends of the Old Coronet Theatre Building page on Facebook.
See "Inside LA Stage History: the Coronet Theatre," a 2016 article by Julio Martinez on the site @ This Stage Magazine from the L.A. Stage Alliance.
The Coronet is discussed as a home for experimental film beginning on page 218 in David James' 2005 book "Most Typical Avant Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles." The author is a professor in the school of Cinema-Television at USC. The book is available from the University of California Press or Amazon. A preview is available on Google Books.
See the Wikipedia page on the history of the Coronet. Yelp has a page on Largo at the Coronet that includes some photos.
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