A fire broke out at the historic Coast Theatre building at 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. Monday morning Oct 3, 2022 at around 4 am. Smoke billowed from the roof and spread into the residential area south of the theatre
At least six engines from the LA County Fire Department were on scene and the incident was resolved without serious damage to the front of the building.
Originally a 1920s storefront building, it was converted into the Gallery Theatre in 1961 by the managers of the Players Ring theatre, a legitimate theatre located a block west (where Holloway Cleaners is today).
After a fire in the Players Ring building in 1964, the theatre company moved into the Gallery temporarily. But it was determined that the Ring theatre was a total loss, and they demolished the theatre and built the shopping center that’s there now.
Many actors who later became television stars appeared in Players Ring productions. Among them were Michael Landon, Barbara Bain, Jack Cassidy, Bea Benederet, Harvey Korman and Bernie Kopell. Versatile character actor Kathleen Freeman was president of the organization in the early years – and 19-year-old Jack Nicholson’s first professional gig was in “Tea and Sympathy” at the Actors Ring.
Their inaugural production on the Gallery stage was “Thousand Clowns,” starring Ted Knight (later Ted Baxter on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show”).
In the 1970s the space was converted into the Gary, a classic movie house. It was later partitioned into two cinemas, the Gallery and the Quickie, that showed adult films. In the 1980s the building was converted back into a theatrical venue and reopened as the Pan Andreas, an equity waver theater. Later renamed the Coast Playhouse, the building was purchased by the city in 2016, which had plans to upgrade it for use as a performance space. Intel lately suggests it can’t be used for the city’s purposes and will be demolished.
Other noteworthy productions in the early years included:
”The Miracle Worker” (1962).
Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” (1962).
”Purlie Victorious” (1962), written by Ossie Davis, starring Greg Morris (“Mission: Impossible”).
”Enter Laughing” (1964), based on the book by Carl Reiner.
”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”(1965), with Warren Oates as McMurphy. Ran for four months.
”Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1965), with Ruth Warrick.
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