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EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do Part Two

EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do Part Two

BEST CINEMAS
Hollywood is the nation's entertainment capital, and at times it can seem that everyone here is related somehow to "the Industry." No surprise, then, that L.A. boasts some of the best movie theaters in the world, from the sui-contemporary in Hollywood to classic theaters in downtown L.A. (see L.A. Conservancy under Architecture). The only problem? A visit to one of L.A.'s cinemas may forever spoil your hometown moviegoing experience.

The most famous movie theater in the world is Grauman's Chinese Theater (6925 Hollywood Blvd; 323-464-6266). Hand- and footprints of glitterati render it a must-see for any film buff. That said, it probably isn't where you want to actually see a movie. It typically books big-budget action films, and they attract a vociferous and not-always-polite crowd.

The honor of classiest cinema belongs to the Arclight (6360 W. Sunset Blvd; 323-464-4226). Built around the iconic, geodesic, 1964 Cinerama Dome, the Arclight boasts state-of-the-art facilities, stadium seating, a full restaurant and bar and a trendy gift shop, plus cushy, reserved seats, genial staff and -- our favorite part -- no commercials (though they do show trailers).

The resurrection of Hollywood began in the early '90s with the restoration of the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd; 800-DISNEY6). It's the marquee venue for Disney's latest animated blockbusters, often preceded by live performances.

Down the street, the 1922 Egyptian Theater (6712 Hollywood Blvd, 323-466-3456) was restored to its Tinseltown heyday elegance a few years later. It's now home to the film preservation society American Cinematheque, which screens a diverse selection of historic and art films.

Laemmle's Sunset 5 (Sunset Plaza, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd; 323-848-3500), a.k.a. "The Gayplex," shows repertory works (including many gay and lesbian-themed films) on five screens. Pacific's cinemas at the Grove shopping center (see shopping) are also something of a gay date place.

Of special note, OutFest (tickets/info: 213-480-7088), L.A.'s gay & lesbian film festival; is the city's largest, held in venues throughout town. Each July Outfest presents more than 200 works, with twice-a-month Outfest Wednesdays the rest of the year.

BEST 4: LIVE PERFORMANCE
L.A. boasts some of the world's leading performing companies from the Los Angeles Philharmonic (under the direction of young Venezuelan phenom Gustavo Dudamel beginning 2009) to the Los Angeles Opera under the direction of Placido Domingo, to comedy clubs that have given the world some of its leading comics.

On the other end of the scale, L.A. is nothing if not a town of actors looking for work. There are dozens of smaller productions, from intimate one-person showcases to drag extravaganzas. Some are a gamble but frequently pay off, and you can't beat the price (usually under $20). The Los Angeles Times Sunday Calendar section and L.A. Weekly have extensive listings.

Since opening in 2003, Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; 323-850-2000), has become a symbol of the city, in addition to being one of the most acoustically sophisticated venues in the world. Gleaming in brushed steel, this new home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic has singlehandedly revitalized downtown, bringing in thousands of visitors nightly and creating excitement in what was previously an eerie, dormant corner of the city after dark.

Across the street, its sister venues in the Music Center of Los Angeles County (135 N. Grand Ave; 213-972-7211) include the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (213-972-8001), hosting the Los Angeles Opera (www.laopera.com) among others; the Mark Taper Forum (213-628-2772; www.marktaperforum.com), hosting contemporary drama; and the Ahmanson Theatre (213-628-2772; www.taperahmanson.com), hosting national touring productions.

No summer visit to L.A. is complete without a night under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave; 323-850-2000), one of the best entertainment venues in America. It offers outdoor concerts from its iconic concrete band shell, ranging from classical and jazz to movie musical singalongs.

On any given day, you're likely to find queer themed productions somewhere around town. The Celebration Theatre (7985 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-957-1884) specializes in them.

Look also at the Renberg Theatre at L.A.'s Gay & Lesbian Center (1125 N. McCadden Place; 323-860-7300) and at the tiny, underground Cavern Club Theater (1920 Hyperion Ave.; 323-969-2530) presents campy, "I-can't-believe-she-just-said-that" drag downstairs at Silver Lake's loveable Mexican cantina Casita Del Campo.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Related Articles:
Los Angeles: Introduction
Los Angeles: Where to Stay
Los Angeles: Where to Eat
Los Angeles: Where to Play/Meet
Los Angeles: Resources

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