Since its first opening in 1926 -- first for Vaudeville, then Silent Movies, and then Academy Award winning films, as the primo movie house in the valley -- the theatre has weathered the Jazz Age, the Depression, 4 wars, and finally the great earthquake of 1994. The lobbies boast luscious carpeting secured in 2004 from the now demised Los Angeles Shubert Theatre and comfortable new seats were installed in 2010.
After the earthquake the El Portal was meticulously rebuilt in the late 1990s and opened in January of 2000, the once 1400-seat movie palace now houses three theatres -- the 42-seat Studio Theatre (the permanent home of Stuart Roger's Theatre Tribe); the 99-seat Monroe Forum Theatre: and the 360-seat Main Stage -- along with the Judith Kaufman Art Gallery, featuring many of Los Angeles' top visual artists. There is complimentary parking behind the theatre at the Lankershim Elementary School in addition to two lots within walking distance that charge a small amount.
In the past ten years many celebrities have graced the stages of El Portal including Jason Alexander, Paul Rodriguez, Fritz Coleman, JoAnne Worley, Joseph Bologna & Renee Taylor, Rip Taylor, Adam Corolla, Ileana Douglas, Debbie Reynolds, Bea Arthur and Billy Goldenberg, Kitty Carlisle Hart's 96th Birthday Tour, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ed Begley, Jr. and his world-premiere musical Cesar and Ruben, Hal Linden, Carol Lawrence, Donna McKechnie, David Faustino, Sally Struthers, Maripat Donovan, Kathleen Chalfant, Carol Channing, a world premiere play with James Denton, and The Manhattan Transfer to name just a few. Hit shows include the ten time Ovation nominated Smokey Joe's Café; Debbie Reynolds in three sold-out visits, the energetic world renowned Groovaloos; A Conversation with Edith Head; Robert Wuhl in Assume the Position; Ray Bradbury's Falling Upward, The Kid From Brooklyn (the Danny Kaye musical), and the longest running show in El Portal history, The Marvelous Wonderettes, which played to sold-out houses for 19 months and continued its success off-Broadway for almost two years. The most exciting holiday production at the El Portal in 2010 was the British Panto "Cinderella"; produced by The Nigel Lythgoe Family followed by "Snow White" and "Cinderella" in 2011. In 2012, the legendary Smokey Robinson premiered his poetry and spoken word piece, "Words" to sold out houses.
El Portal also hosts numerous television and movie productions. Viewers will have spotted the theatre on Glee, Modern Family, Ben Stiller's "Billy Glimmer", Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives, The Biggest Loser, CSI (all three!), Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Ghost Whisperer, Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic, Last Comic Standing, R&B Divas, several comedy specials for Showtime such as Wendy Liebman's "I Look Taller on TV"; and Live Nude Comedy hosted by Shannon Elizabeth and numerous commercials for the likes of Mercedes Benz, KFC, Swiffer Sweepers, Independent Film Channel, and many others. Entertainer RuPaul has shot his 2012 and 2013 reunion / finale episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race on the El Portal MainStage. Television studios ABC, NBC, and CBS all host industry showcases for diverse, upcoming talent at El Portal.
El Portal continues to host major workshops and readings that will eventually end up on Broadway or the west end such as Serrano a mafia-style musical version of Cyrano, Grumpy Old Men, Gladiator and Zorro the musical, which began as a workshop in our Forum Theatre and had an Olivier Award-winning run on London's West End.