L.A.’s Belasco Theatre Rises

A bevy of historic theatres in downtown Los Angeles has been discovered and some restored and reopened – with varying results – in recent years, but the makeover of the Belasco Theatre may be the most dramatic.

The 1920s-vintage building has been retooled with $12 million in renovations to its 40,000 square feet of space, which retains most of its original ornate Mayan revival design touches serving as a backdrop for state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.

The Belasco sports a variety of spaces capable of hosting concerts to corporate events, including a main theatre, ballroom, basement lounge, wine/tapas bar and two restaurants.

The D&B Audiotechnik sound system is said to be the largest and most powerful of its kind in Los Angeles, and its 3-D architectural mapping ability, supported by HD video projection, may be the only one of its kind locally. In addition to the inhouse tech touches, artists can bring in their own equipment and lighting programming to project on the theatre’s domed ceiling.

The new system got a thorough workout at the Belasco’s March 19 grand opening with more than 1,000 partygoers paying upward of $100 for the venue’s debut with Deadmau5.

“Everything you see in Las Vegas you’ll see here,” David Flad, of Q1 Designs and the Belasco’s lighting director, told the Los Angeles Times.

The restoration was financed by John and Christina Kim, a husband and wife team that manages the venue. Since its construction in 1926, the Belasco Theatre has served as a legitimate theatre, movie house, church and rental hall but has sat mostly unused for more than 20 years.

“We fell in love with this place,” Christina Kim told the Times. “It was in bad shape, but we saw beyond that. We felt like we had opportunity to restore it and bring it back to the community.”

The booking strategy for the Belasco is reportedly still taking shape. It’s hosted private events including a premiere of basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s film “On the Shoulders of Giants” and the sold-out Deadmau5 show.

Charlie Ybarra, the venue’s general manager, told the Times the Belasco, for the time being, plans to offer club nights on weekends and focus on the bars and restaurants during the week.