CITY ARTS : Pictured Palaces

A Downtown gallery is giving 12 of the city's most lavish landmarks a chance to take a bow.

The free exhibition, "The Final Curtain: Endangered Movie Palaces of Downtown Los Angeles," opens Friday and features more than 30 color photographs of the ornate interiors of the magnificent movie palaces.

The Broadway theater district is home to the nation's largest concentration of historic movie theaters, including the Cameo, Roxie, Mayan and Los Angeles, all built between 1910 and 1931.

Photographers Robert Berger and Anne Conser began the project three years ago as part of an effort to preserve and restore the Orpheum Theatre and the other Downtown landmark theaters.

The Orpheum opened in 1926 as an important stop on the vaudeville circuit and hosted such performers as the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

The Mayan is now a nightclub, the United Artists Theater and the Million Dollar Theater serve as churches and the Arcade, Globe, Rialto and Roxie theaters operate as swap meets.

"Once you start changing the function of these theaters and take away their original look they become endangered," said Francie Kugelman, director of the Gallery at 777.

"The Final Curtain: Endangered Movie Palaces of Downtown Los Angeles," The Gallery at 777, 777 S. Figueroa St..; through July 29; 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, also 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 14, 15 and June 18; (213) 955-5977.

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