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Wilshire Ebell Theatre

Wilshire Ebell Theatre

Architects: Hunt and Burns

First Opened: 29th December 1927 (95 years ago)

Former Names: Windsor Square Theatre

Website: ebellofla.org/theatre/ Open website in new window

Telephone: (323) 939-1128 Call (323) 939-1128

Address: 4401 West 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005 Show address in Google Maps (new window)


The Wilshire Ebell Theatre is part of a larger complex, completed in 1927, as the clubhouse for The Ebell of Los Angeles Link opens in new window, a prominent Los Angeles women’s club formed in 1894. The theatre is relatively intimate in size, seating just under 1,300, and is well known for its excellent acoustics. It has hosted musical performances and lectures by top artists and world leaders.

Detailed Information

Auditorium
Auditorium

The etymology of the theatre’s name reflects that of the club, based on the principles and teachings of Adrian Ebell and founded in his name.

Ebell was a pioneer in women’s education and the organization of societies for women in the 1890s. At its forming, the Ebell of Los Angeles’ purpose was stated as being “to interest women in the study of all branches of literature, art and science and the advancement of women in every branch of culture”.

The first formal evening for the clubhouse was held on 22nd October 1927, the occasion being an International Ball. The theatre, originally called the Windsor Square Theatre, first opened to the public on 29th December 1927 with the world premiere of Sigmund Romberg’s new musical The Desert Song. The theatre’s name changed to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in mid-1930.

The 1927 clubhouse complex, including the theatre, was designed in an Italian style by Sumner P. Hunt of architectural firm Hunt & Burns.

The theatre’s late 1920s neon sign, atop the theatre’s roof
The theatre’s late 1920s neon sign, atop the theatre’s roof

The Wilshire Ebell has played host to many notable performances during its 95 year tenure. Judy Garland, known at the time as Baby Frances Gumm, first auditioned for MGM on the Wilshire Ebell’s stage in the 1930s. Amelia Earhart made her last appearance and public speech on the theatre’s stage before departing on her ill-fated 1937 round-the-world flight.

Igor Stravinsky conducted the premiere of Danses Concertantes at the theatre in 1942, his first major work composed entirely in the United States. Jazz great Dave Brubeck, “one of jazz’s first pop stars” according to the Los Angeles Times, performed at the Wilshire Ebell two years after forming the legendary Dave Brubeck Quartet and one year before appearing on the cover of Time magazine. The album “Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Wilshire Ebell” lives on as a jazz classic.

A major renovation of the theatre took place in 1989 which saw the stage refitted, the auditorium seating and carpets replaced, and new lighting/sounds systems installed.

Wilshire Ebell on Wilshire Blvd
Wilshire Ebell on Wilshire Blvd

The American Foundation for Equal Rights held their US West Coast premiere reading of the play “8” at the theatre in 2012. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Matt Bomer, Kevin Bacon, Christine Lahti, John C. Reilly, and directed by Rob Reiner, the star-studded performance benefited the court fight that ultimately led to a historic victory in the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of marriage equality.

The theatre houses a 3-manual, 13-rank Barton pipe organ, dedicated on 24th November 1984 Link opens in new window, which is owned and maintained by the Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society Link opens in new window. The organ, originally 10 ranks, was first installed in the National Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1927.

The theatre and particularly the clubhouse complex is a very popular movie and TV filming location. The general location’s headline features include: Columbo, 24, Mad Men, Feud: Bette and Joan, Ghost, Death Becomes Her, Forrest Gump, Air Force One, Catch Me If You Can, Wedding Crashers, and Oscar-winning The Artist. Specific titles filmed at the theatre are listed below.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Movies

Television

How do I visit the Wilshire Ebell Theatre?

As of late-2017 the Wilshire Ebell Theare does not offer tours however it hosts many events which are listed on the theatre’s calendar of events Link opens in new window.


Upcoming Special Events

“Fire of Georgia” (3rd March 2023, 8pm)

“Fire of Georgia”

The Royal National Ballet present the “Fire of Georgia” program.

Direct from Tbilisi, Georgia, World Touring brings the Royal National Ballet with a new program “Fire of Georgia”.

From the first days of its creation, the Dance Company has been the pride of its country. The Company has enjoyed wide popularity, due to its original, distinguished choreography and high professionalism of dancers. The dancers were charmingly wholehearted and skillful. The staging was sleek and the costumes were gorgeous…” After their recent tour to Poland, the Polish newspaper wrote: “The performance of the Royal National Ballet was an unexpected revelation for us.”

The Dance Company’s popularity is growing every year; and with every year grows the number of people around the world that admires their vital talent. The Dance Company of Georgia is very anxious to come to the United States for the first time, where their performances will be met with great anticipation, appreciation and love.

Tickets $35 - $79.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

Further Reading

Online

Technical Information

Flying System
Batten Length
50ft (15.2m)
Grid Height
60ft (18.3m)
Lock Rail
Stage Right (exception for Lineset “I”, 23ft 10in / 7.3m from Plaster Line, which is operated from Upstage Left
System Type
Single-purchase Counterweight (wire guide)
Total Linesets
34
Trim Heights
Main Drape and Borders: 16ft (14.9m); Electrics: 20ft (6.1m)
General Information
Seating Capacity
Orchestra (Main Floor) 883; Loge 168; Balcony 215; Total 1,266.
Lighting
Console
ETC Impression 2 with monitor, operable from FOH or Backstage
Dimmers
167 ETC dimmers rated at 2.4kW
Followspots
2 @ 1.2kW Selecon followspots; color temperature 6000K
Movie Projection
Balcony Rail to Movie Screen
50ft (15.2m)
Movie Screen
16ft x 12ft (4.9m x 3.7m), usually hung on Batten #5 (4ft 10in / 1.5m upstage of Plaster Line)
Projection Booth to Movie Screen
80ft (24.4m)
Stage Dimensions
Loading Door Dimensions
8ft x 8ft (2.4m by 2.4m), loading onto Stage from Upstage Right
Orchestra Pit Cover Depth
6ft 1in (1.9m)
Prosc Height
27ft 3in (8.3m)
Prosc Width
39ft (11.9m)
Stage Depth
31ft 2in (9.5m)
Wing Space SL
12ft / 3.7m (some restrictions overhead)
Wing Space SR
8ft (2.4m)
Historic Photos & Documents
Files displayed in this section may be subject to copyright; refer to our Copyright Fair Use Statement regarding our use of copyrighted media.

Photos of the Wilshire Ebell Theatre

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Auditorium: Orchestra (Main Floor)
  2. Auditorium: Balcony
  3. Exterior and Public Areas
  4. COVID-19 Red Alert for the Arts
  5. Backstage
  6. Projection Booth
Auditorium: Orchestra (Main Floor)
Auditorium: Balcony
Exterior and Public Areas
COVID-19 Red Alert for the Arts

In Fall of 2020 the Wilshire Ebell joined over 1,500 organizations across the United States in lighting theatres and event venues in red to raise awareness for the arts and entertainment industry which had been devastated by COVID-19.

The event, called “Red Alert”, was organized by the advocacy group We Make Events Link opens in new window whos goal was to to urge Congress to vote for the Restart Act and to push for an extension and expansion of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Backstage
Projection Booth


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