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Arts and Entertainment

The Guy Behind The Echo Transforms Historic Downtown Theater Into A Cool New Venue

The revamped Regent Theater (Photo via Facebook)
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The century-old Regent Theater in downtown's Old Bank District re-opened its doors last Friday as a hip, new venue helmed by the man behind The Echo and Spaceland.

The theater, located at 448 S. Main Street, first opened in 1914 and over the years served as a vaudeville theater and adult movie venue. According to Downtown News, the venue for the most part had been empty since the 1990s, except for a few events here and there. Mitchell Frank, who owns Spaceland Productions and runs the Echo and the Echoplex, first eyed the place eight years ago. Frank and his partners, Knitting Factory Entertainment and Artist & Recreation, signed a lease for the Regent Theater in 2012 and started construction in April 2013.

The restored and revamped Regent Theater kicked off its grand opening last Friday with a music festival, Downtown Festival Los Angeles, with local band YACHT headlining. In the coming weeks, musical acts like DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, Cold War Kids, FKA Twigs and Ariel Pink will be gracing their stage. But it won't just be a music venue; Regent Theater said in a press release that there will be theater performances, film screenings, dance nights, and more. There's even the Rock N' Roll Flea Market hitting the venue and comedian Tig Notaro performing next month.

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The Regent Theater opened its doors on Nov. 7 (Photo by Abel Bourbois via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
Inside the Regent Theater is Prufrock Pizzeria, an Italian restaurant that serves Neapolitan-style pizza, and a cocktail bar called The Lovesong. And if those things sound familiar to you, you're right: they're both inspired by T.S. Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

The Love Song cocktail bar (Photo via Facebook)
As for the venue itself, there have been quite a few changes. The seats have been pulled out, and a mezzanine has been added to the 1,100-capacity building, according to Downtown News. Designers Paul Svendsen and Michael Andrews of Inheritance used reclaimed wood from the original theater and used it throughout the venue at the bars and on the tabletops.

"We wanted to pay homage to the past history of the theater and the neighborhood without forcing faux appeal," Svendsen told Downtown News.

However, the original parts of the theater that have been kept include the sloped floor and gothic arches, the L.A. Times reported.

"I've wanted to be downtown for a long time, and there are a lot of high expectations about what this is going to do for the neighborhood," Frank told the Times. "I don't know if we're going to replicate what we've done in Silver Lake and Echo Park.

"For me, we're just going to do what we do, because we've been doing it for a while and helped develop talent, promoters, festivals, genres," he said. "We're just going to do what what we do best here."

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