Last Remaining Seats: Chinatown at the Orpheum

— by Caroline on Crack

The Mezzanine 

I think I had the definitive Angeleno moment. Never have I felt a truer sense of the city than when I saw Chinatown last night at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown, thanks to L.A. Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats.

The Orpheum, built in 1926 and part of downtown’s famed Broadway theatre district, used to host vaudeville acts and was even a first-run movie house until it closed in 2001. After major renovation to its grand French interior, it has become a venue for filming and performing arts events.

This theatre is just gorgeous. You really get a sense of L.A.’s history from its seats; listening to the mighty 1928 Wurlitzer organ and gazing up at the theatre’s magnificent chandliers which have hung overhead for 80 years. Of course, since this is an old theatre you forsake comfort for the grand experience. People back in the old days must have been tiny because, like the Wiltern, the seats are small, the space between rows nearly nonexistent and the steps between each level many. I guess we just got fatter and lazier with time.

But the house was packed to see Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. I’ve seen this movie many times before on TV but I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on by seeing it that way. Even dotsara, who had rented the DVD a couple of weeks before and was initially unimpressed with it, said how her perception of the movie totally changed from watching it in the Orpheum with a crowd. Lines were funnier and moments more meaningful just from the audience’s reactions of laughter and gasping.

There are only two Last Remaining Seats shows left: Dos Tipos de Cuidado on the 28th at the Palace Theatre, which still has tickets available, and the sold-out show for Rebel Without a Cause at the Los Angeles Theatre on July 5th. If you can’t catch a show this year, definitely try to go next year.

842 South Broadway
Los Angeles, California 90014