Thursday, January 23, 2014
Art Deco Building Focus: Saban Theatre In Beverly Hills
I (Lara) went the the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills for the first time recently (to see a performance of Stomp!) and just fell in love with the place. It's such a little Art Deco jewel (there is no balcony) that I wanted to pick it up and put it in my pocket and take it home with me. Even my hubby, who is not so much into the Deco stuff but has been dragged to decorative places all over town, said that the Saban is by far his favorite.
The Saban opened as the Fox Wilshire in 1930 with the premiere of the Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers. I'm guessing that Groucho's famous eyebrows went up in surprise at the sheer lavishness of the theater and the building that housed it. It was built for the Fox Film Corporation, and there was even an Art Deco penthouse at the top for the Vice President of Fox; the Oviatt Building in Downtown Los Angeles (home of Cicada Restaurant) also has a Deco penthouse.
Architect S. Charles Lee designed the Saban. If his name sounds familiar, it's probably because he did many famous buildings in Southern California, like the Tower Theatre, Bruin Theatre, and Los Angeles Theatre. There are so many lovely features to enjoy at the Saban, like ziggurats over doors, a terrazzo sunburst at the entrance, Art Deco wall sconces, and a spacious rotunda that reminds me of the Wiltern Theatre. The theatre was renovated, but they did a wonderful job sticking close to the original design!
Originally, the Saban was a first-run movie house that also featured some live theatre. Remember that back in the day, film companies had their own theatres to show their own films, so it must have been very exciting for Fox to set up camp in such a glamorous neighborhood. Plus, talking pictures were still new when the theatre opened, so I'm sure people came in droves to take them in.
The Saban has not shown films since the 1980s, but now hosts live events. I absolutely recommend going to a show so you can enjoy some entertainment and hang in this beautiful theatre!
1. There is a parking garage next door under an office building, but it gets really jammed right before showtime and right after. You can also look for street parking.
2. There is a cute little bar/restaurant adjacent to the Saban, but--like the garage--it is packed just before shows. Get there really early, or plan to grab a bite somewhere else in the neighborhood.
8440 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211