Tuesday, November 24, 2009


by Jeff Loeb, Associate General Manager

“The tree won’t fit.” That’s the text message I received from our Technical Director (TD) during the load-in of DIRTY DANCING. I called him to discover that the 30 foot tree in the show, the one where Baby learns how to balance, won’t fit down the stage door ramp and make the turn onto the stage. The stage door is only 8 feet wide and it needs to be about 1 foot wider. Well that wasn’t going to happen today.

There have been a few shows that had set pieces either so large or heavy that we had difficulty getting them down the stage door ramp. There was PHANTOM with the 10,000 truss system or HAIRSPRAY with the neon set piece that caused a tow truck to tilt back on to the two back wheels. But even though they were large or heavy (or both) we somehow managed to get them all in the building. That is until the 30 foot tree showed up. We have never have we had a 30 foot long set piece and certainly one that didn’t break into sections. This was one solid tree and it wasn’t going in the building.

The next text I received from our TD: “Traffic stopped. The tree is on Hollywood Blvd”.

Why is it on Hollywood Blvd? The stage door is on Argyle. What are they up to? Come to learn that the crew made an executive decision and a good one at that. Since the tree was only 3 feet in diameter they decided to wheel the tree down on to Hollywood Blvd and try to bring it in through front doors of the theatre. Width wasn’t a problem. Length was.

Once the tree was in front of the theatre they spun it around so it aimed north directly at our front doors and blocked Hollywood Blvd completely. Traffic was held at a standstill for only a few minutes and the tree was slowly brought up over the curb and angled in through the front doors. It was a straight shot through the lobby and down one of the two center aisles. A slight issue was lifting the tree up on to the stage but once at the lip of the stage there were chain motors to help. And our crew is a total Home Improvement gang and loves using anything motorized.

It worked. Other than the traffic interruption the tree made it in and for every performance the tree would very slowly lower on to stage coming to rest on the stage floor so Baby could learn to dance in the woods.

At the conclusion of the run, the DIRTY DANCING set was dismantled. On that final day of strike, I asked if we might have a memento of the show. On Monday when I walked into my office there was a 6 foot section of the tree sitting where me desk chair used to be. I had to laugh because all I could think was “I bet the tree fit through the door this time.”

Monday, November 23, 2009


By Steve Cisneros, Pantages House Manager

I’ve been very proud to have spent the last 15 years of my career working for what I believe to be some of the finest theatres and venues in Southern California. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the biggest celebrities in the world, meet some of the most talented performers, and watch some of the best shows the theatre world has to offer.

However, until just last week with the opening of Dr. Seuss' "How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" (Shameless plug alert: now running at the Pantages until January 3, visit www.BroadwayLA.org for tickets), I had never had the opportunity to see this: children making snow angels in the middle of our aisle.

Keep in mind, we have a roof, there is no actual snow falling in our venue (this is Los Angeles after all), and it’s a pleasantly warm day outside of our theatre. However, this does not deter the dozens of children still smiling, screaming, and trotting about our theatre as if they stepped out into the snowy Colorado Mountains.

I don’t want to give a way the ending of the show, (though it’s doubtful many of us don’t already know the story), but suffice it to say, there is plenty of white stuff falling.

Despite The Grinch’s attempt to make the Christmas holiday less cheerful, the children that file into our theatre seem to be filled with the same holiday cheer the Whos have been trying to pass on to our green friend. And while The Grinch has long left the stage, the energy of the show continues in the hearts of our young theatregoers.

I mentioned in my last blog that many of our patrons, now in their 70s and 80s, have been visiting our theatre since they were children. I can’t help but remember these veteran theatregoers as I look at the young kids filling the lobby. I wonder if the House Manager 70 years from now will be speaking to these same patrons, that I see now as children making snow angels. I wonder if that House Manager will get to hear about the stories I am seeing first hand.

Come for The Grinch and laugh, come for the holiday and be merry, come for the live theatre and make it a night; but make sure you stay for the angels in the aisle, and make it a memory you will never forget.

Friday, November 13, 2009


by Bob Speck, Director of Sales

I live in Los Angeles, and I walk. I’ll give you time to process that…

I live in L.A., and I walk. As a very recent transplant, walking is not an alien concept to me. However, tell the average Angelino that you walk, and your admission will likely be met with a combination of disbelief and pity.

You walk?

They ask, their upper lips twitching ever so slightly.

You mean that you hike, like Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park?

They ask, some visibly choking back tears.

For you out-of-towners, Runyon Canyon is a barren crag in the Hollywood Hills, a climb up which is a level of physical activity usually reserved for prisoners of war on forced marches. This little fact aside, it is unfathomably popular with the L.A. fit set and their dogs. And you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen an impossibly thin would-be actress dragging her hyperventilating French bulldog up a narrow mountain pass. Griffith Park is a sprawling complex consisting of a zoo, an amphitheater, two museums, an observatory and acre after acre of relatively unspoiled wilderness that annually busts into flames threatening wildlife and the lives and homes of near by residents.

No, I walk. Like to work or the store or dinner.

Gape-mouthed stares usually follow. The kind of reaction one would expect after confessing to regularly appearing in pornography or having six toes on one foot.

I guess some background is in order. I have recently arrived in L.A. after living in New York City for the last 20 years and prior to that a brief stay abroad in Paris. My driver’s license having long ago expired, I haven’t been behind the wheel in any meaningful way in almost two decades. In the past, this has proved a minor inconvenience at worst, my previous philosophy being something along the lines of “If you can’t get there by subway it’s probably not worth the trip, thank you very much.” Now I’m some kind of mythological beast that people have always heard about but never seen, a pudgy unicorn ambling east on Santa Monica Blvd. near La Brea.

“So what does any of this have to do with theater?” I hear you ask. Well I work at the Pantages. The Pantages is in Hollywood. Hollywood is in L.A., and L.A. means fitness. And what does any of this have to do with fitness? The sad truth is not a whole lot. Because even though I don’t drive here in the place that gave the world the right turn on red, I walk less than I did in New York. This isn’t because I’ve become even more slothful than I was before (granted, being somewhere with my feet up eating cookies is my idea of a good time, but even I have my limits) but because some strange conspiracy of climate and landscape almost forces one to ride. Even if the vehicle of your transport is *gasp* a city bus. This is, after all, the town where the swanker gyms offer valet parking to spare their members the arduous sojourn from the parking lot to the front door. Of course, once inside these “fitness centers” the very people who couldn’t park their own cars push themselves to the very limits of human endurance in classes like Power Yoga, Power Pilates or Power Spinning. The very thought of which makes me want to take a Power Nap.

I know that for all my snarkiness, if I wish to reach a level of fitness that allows me to tie my shoes without getting winded, then I will have to sacrifice myself to one of these chrome-plated, neon lit temples of sweat. I just have to find the right one for me, one that best suites my personality. A gym with comfy chairs. And ... cookies?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


By Wayne McWorter, Vice President, Marketing

I’m on the downhill slope of 40 – well, actually I’m closer to the 5-0 mile marker, but nevertheless … I’ve always thought of myself as progressive. I’ve plugged in to the electronic culture as a means of accomplishing more and more, in less and less time. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, I know, but it’s the reality of a modern, multi-tasking life. I actually caught myself recently using my iPhone to check my bank balance because I was running too many programs simultaneously on my desktop computer. I’ve recently added a second monitor to allow me more space in which to multi-task.

My multi-tasking skills have recently been taken to task, however, with a commitment I made to my new mate. Companion, thy name is Twitter. As I wrote in our very first “Postcard From Pantages,” we’ve made a commitment to the distribution of information in forms that are relevant to different types of info-consumers. Personally, I can’t stand Facebook; sorry, I’ve tried, but the virtual community of that world, with all its intertwining tentacles, is more than my multi-tasking brain (and fingers) can manage.

So when I met my friend Twitter, I thought I had found my perfect match. I reasoned that it is basically the “status update” portion of Facebook, without all the other do-dads to update and maintain. Plus, you can’t use more than 140 characters, so that would keep me brief. (If anyone out there is reading this, I fear that you’re suffering the overflow not allowed me on Twitter…)

I was determined to make Twitter interesting for any poor soles that might decide to follow “Pantages.” Do our Twitter followers really care for me to tell them every time we have a performance? I doubt it. So I’ve tried to find a mix of things that are interesting to me: breaking Broadway news items, notification about special unadvertised price specials, info on touring shows making their way to L.A., etc. And then I discovered the art of Re-Tweeting. Using the abbreviation “RT” followed by the account name that originally sent the message, I enjoy sharing things that strike my fancy.

But actually doing all this has turned out to be much more difficult than I had originally imagined. In my attempt to stay current, I now have my TweetDeck interface running all day on my computer. Tweet-tweet comes in a new set of updates. I follow a little over 100 different accounts as “@Pantages,” and another 60 or so from my personal account. Most of these provide me with a steady stream of information about the world of the theatre or related entertainment. But in order to keep up with the bouncing ball, I find myself jumping back and forth more than ever before between Outlook, TweetDeck, Excel, Word, TweetDeck, Google, our website, TweetDeck… I’m afraid that I’m going to miss some cool piece of news, or some spark of an idea that will inspire my next Tweet.

Sure, it can be fun. At least, I reason, I’m not trying to come up with 140 characters to describe a relief for bunion pain. Wait – that’s my next Tweet!