The Music Center pages: Ahmanson Theatre | Dorothy Chandler Pavilion | Disney Hall | Redcat | Mark Taper Forum |
Opened: April 1967. This 1967 Herald Examiner photo looking north on Hope St. is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The Ahmanson Theatre, part of the L.A. County Music Center, typically books Broadway musicals with an occasional straight play. Like the Mark Taper Forum just to the south, it's managed by Center Theatre Group.
Phone: 213-628-2772 Website: www.centertheatregroup.org
Seating: 2,133. It's a two balcony house. The 1999 edition of "Stage Specs, a Technical Guide to Theatres" breaks down the seating as 1,011 on the main floor, 607 in the 1st balcony (which the theatre calls the mezzanine) and 515 in the 2nd balcony (called the balcony).
2,084 is the number appearing in Wikipedia. The capacity is sometimes reduced for smaller shows by draping off parts of the mezzanine and balcony.
A sectional drawing from the architects of the theatre as it was in 1967. The two balconies were later extended forward.
The 1967 main floor plan. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating the drawings for the fine page about the Music Center on his Historic Theatre Photography site. If you're curious about the other levels of the building he has the plans as a 460Kb pdf.
Ellerbe Becket, the successor firm to Becket & Associates, did a major renovation in 1993 and 1994 that extended the balcony and mezzanine forward, narrowed the house a bit, and lowered the ceiling. The last performance before the renovation was "Phantom of the Opera" on August 29, 1993 and the reopening with "Miss Saigon" was Wednesday January 25, 1995.
Gruen Associates designed a renovation of the proscenium area that was executed by Matt Construction in 2011. Thanks to Mike Hume for tracking down the project and determining the date. The Ahmanson Theatre page on the Matt site has this data:
this design-build, fast-track project, the Ahmanson Theatre received an
upgrade allowing it to accommodate the sets and tech of modern visiting
productions. The team widened the Ahmanson Theatre’s unusually narrow
proscenium and enhanced its appearance and functionality with metal mesh
curtains and a unique, removable and storable proscenium header. Other
improvements included a new ceiling, fire wall and fire curtain,
structural rigging beams and curtain and lighting platforms. This
challenging project succeeded amid numerous constraints, including a
complete lack of as-builts and a construction window of only seven
Proscenium: It's now 40' wide x 42' high with a removable header. It got a remodel in 2011. Previously the dimensions were 39' 6" wide x 31' 10" high
Stage depth: 50' from smoke pocket to back wall
Wall to wall: 126'
Grid height: 76' 4"
Counterweight system: 92 5-line sets, 50' long pipes, 760 lb. arbor capacity
Lockrail: stage left at stage level
Flyfloors: SL and SR at 34' 11"
House dimmer system: 328 2.4 Kw Strand CD80
Road power: 4 400A 3 phase, 1 200A 3 phase for sound, 2 200 A 3 phase extra
Patchable F.O.H. circuits: 136
Pit: 9' 6" below stage level, no lift
Much of the stage data comes from the 1999 edition of "Stage Specs, A Technical Guide to Theatres" published by the League of American Theatres and Producers. Thanks to Mike Hume for providing a copy. Visit the page about the Music Center on his Historic Theatre Photography site.
The main lobby looking across from house left. Here we're at Plaza level. Entering around either side from this level gets you to the mezzanine. Going to the main floor means you go down a level. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018
The lockrail stage left. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
Looking up above the lockrail. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
The downstage left corner. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
The auditorium from onstage. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
The under side of the flyfloor and on up to the grid. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
A wider panorama of the stage right wing. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
Downstage right looking offstage. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
Los Angeles-based lighting designer Jared A. Sayeg advises: "In 1989 when the first National Company / 1st permanent sit down production of 'Phantom' was being prepared for LA there was not enough space stage right for the scenery that needed to be stored offstage as well as the show’s many dimmer racks, so they built a 2nd level for all the dimmer racks to be elevated about 10' or so. I remember visiting backstage in 1990 and saw the huge amounts of cable running to the platform with all the racks, it was quite a sight. The platform has remained there ever since, and oddly hasn't been used for dimmer racks since."
The upstage right corner. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
More Exterior views:
A March 1966 view of the Taper and the Ahmanson under construction taken by Palmer Connor. Thanks to James J. Chun for finding it in the Huntington Library collection for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
Looking north on Grand Ave. past the Mark Taper Forum toward the Ahmanson. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018
More information: Visit Mike Hume's fine page about the Music Center on his Historic Theatre Photography site for more photos.
See the Wikipedia article on the Ahmanson. Southland Architecture has a page on the theatre with several photos.
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