In yesterday’s post I detailed the history we learned about the El Capitan Theatre on our Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation tour last weekend. After the organ concert and history presentation, we were broken into groups and sent dashing through the narrow halls backstage to try to see everything before the theater opened for business that morning. Our group got to climb the steps and stand on the stage for a few moments while others split off to tour the balcony.
We were lead off the house left side of the stage and shown the stage manager’s base of operations.
The first and nicest of the many dressing rooms we saw is known as the “star” dressing room. At this point we weren’t really sure if we were allowed to go into the rooms we were being lead to, and our guide seemed more interested in moving us from place to place than showing us stuff, so I didn’t get any really good shots.
From there it was down the first of many narrow staircases, this one leading to the Green Room.
As I mentioned yesterday, the exciting thing about this tour for a Disney fan like me was that we were allowed to take pictures backstage—a definite no-no at the parks. Which means you get to endure such scintillating shots as this…
The next stop was the “Mickey lift,” used to vault performers onto the stage quickly just like its cousins in the two Fantasmic! shows at the parks. It looks… deadly!
Stage left houses a seemingly infinite staircase leading to three levels of dressing rooms, bathrooms, and the organ loft.
At the very top of the stairs is the organ loft, which the forward-thinking architects included even though the theater was not intended to show movies. It never actually housed organ pipes until the 1998 renovation, serving instead as a scenic shop for making props and sets. The giant thing in this photo is a Spencer blower for powering the pipes. Some old movie houses used to need two of these babies!
They never told us how many pipes the organ has, but we did learn that the largest is 32 feet long.
After descending the staircase sideways to accommodate the next groups, we went out through an alley and back into the theater before heading upstairs to the balcony.
I don’t remember what we talked about in the balcony cuz I was busy taking a bunch of blurry pictures I’m not going to show you. Well, OK, here’s one…
Patrick’s more of a detail man…
The upstairs lobby didn’t have display cases originally, but it is fun to look through all the photos of the various premieres and some historic shots.
From there it was all the way down to the basement lounge, which is the only room in the theater untouched by any of the extreme makeovers through the years. Disney had the paneling and light fixtures restored. The display case at the back of the room is an addition. Last time we were there it held Miss Piggy’s costumes from the Muppet movie, and the rest of the room prominently featured sets from the film. Now it’s been completely transformed for Story Time with Belle in the Beast’s Library Under the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
There was talk of us each receiving a reproduction of the program of the first play shown at the theater, but the guy who was supposed to bring them forgot.
We wandered through the Soda Fountain on our way out.
If you’re interested in similar tours of historic LA theaters, keep an eye on the following sites:
- Los Angeles Historic Theatre Society
- LA Conservancy
- The Conservancy also shows films in the grand old movie palaces downtown once a year during Last Remaining Seats
- The American Cinematheque occasionally gives public tours of the historic Egyptian Theater. We really enjoyed that one too!
This post is part of the DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival. Check it out!