The Alex Theatre is Glendale’s premier theatre Los Angeles


The Alex Theatre is Glendale’s premier theatre and performance venue. Since its inception in 1925, it has served as a focal point for artistic and economic activity in downtown Glendale.

The Alexander was named after C. L. Langley’s son, who owned West Coast Theatres. From the late 1920s to the 1950s, the company was known as Fox West Coast Theatres, and it was the dominant theatre chain in Southern California. The studios preferred the Alexander Theatre for showing sneak previews of their major releases.

Originally designed in a Classical Revival style with an entry forecourt by architects Lindley & Selkirk, the theatre façade was remodeled into a spectacular Moderne edifice by noted theatre architect S. Charles Lee in 1940 and renamed the Alex. Lee’s remodeling resulted in a larger, detached box office, a large tower, and a large horizontal, trapezoidal marquee, all of which still dominate much of Brand Boulevard and Glendale’s downtown.

The interior of the theatre, which originally seated 2,030 people, has a lovely decorated proscenium, ceiling, and walls. The original décor is mostly intact, though the overall seating capacity was reduced to 1,400 after a 1993 rehabilitation project.

The theatre is now a busy performing arts center with live performances and film screenings, including classic Hollywood films screened by the nonprofit Alex Film Society.

During WWII, celebrities appeared at monthly war bond rallies. The $1,000,000 in bonds sold in Glendale, mostly at the Alex, qualified the city to have a frigate named the USS Glendale built in its honor. Benefits, children’s shows, fashion shows by Glendale merchants, car giveaways, and amateur nights were among the local events.

On August 23, 1948, a fire on stage destroyed the stagehouse and dressing rooms. The auditorium only received smoke and heat damage as a result of the fire curtain. Then, Fox West Coast took advantage of the opportunity to redecorate the auditorium and Front-of-House areas, claiming that their improvements “dealt with the out-of-date décor.” The theatre reopened three weeks later, on September 16, 1948.

The Alex was operated by Fox West Coast’s successor companies National General and Mann Theatres over the years. Mann Theatres ceased operations at the Alex in September 1991, with a final screening of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, advertising their new multiplex just around the corner as patrons exited the soon-to-be-closed theatre.

Following much public outcry, the Glendale Redevelopment Agency purchased the theatre to serve as the focal point of a revitalized Brand Boulevard. Under the direction of architect Richard McCann, a $6.5 million renovation project was launched, and on December 31, 1993, the Alex reopened as a performing arts and entertainment center. Funding for the installation of an Orchestra Pit Lift was not available in 1993. A lift was installed after money was raised, thanks in part to a grant from The Ahmanson Foundation.

A nine-month project (with a five-month theatre closure) began in 2013 to improve backstage facilities at the theatre, including a 6,600-square-foot expansion and vastly improved stage loading access. A backstage elevator, as well as additional dressing rooms, new restrooms, a production team shop, and storage space, were added. A Signature Wall, which is regularly signed by high-profile performers and guests, was also added.

Glendale Arts Link opens in new window, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate the arts into the identity, growth, and economic vitality of the City of Glendale by presenting programming and creating partnerships that benefit youth, patrons, artists, organizations, and businesses in the community and at the Alex Theatre, managed the Alex until Fall 2021. The City of Glendale appointed SAS Entertainment Partners Link opens in new window to run the theatre in October 2021, following a lengthy and protracted process.


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