08 June 2010

My New Wednesday Ritual

So a while back I posted about the Los Angeles Conservancy's "Last Remaining Seats" summer film series that they host in historic theaters on Broadway in Downtown L.A. Well..... two weeks ago I attended my first screening, and it have to say, buying the series package was a great idea and I can't recommend attending one of these nights enough! For the next month, I'll be attending these screenings, and probably eating beforehand at my new favorite restaurant!

Two Wednesdays ago I left work in Santa Monica, headed downtown, and on a whim, typed "macrobiotic" into my Yelp application. Up came Shojin which is a vegan, macrobiotic Japanese restaurant on the third floor of the Little Tokyo shopping center on Alameda. Seeing as how it was pretty close to the Los Angeles Theater, where I would be seeing "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" later, I drove over to Alameda and found a parking spot on the street. The meter was broken - bonus! (I later found out there is free parking in the shopping center lot, with validation). Anyway, I entered the mall, where I was decidedly out of place, and smiled all the way up the escalator to the 3rd floor where the huge, cheery flowers of the ceiling art glowed pinkly onto the facade of Shojin - also cheerful with its floral paintings on display. I was immediately greeted by the hostess, who later appeared to be the owner as well, and welcomed warmly. She asked if it was my first time and was very friendly. I was so happy just walking in there - as the walls were adorned with colorful paintings from a local artist and the menu depicted all sorts of yummy dishes I had only recently been introduced to (Thanks, Kind Diet!) and extolled the virtues of vegan, macrobiotic meals. I ended up ordering quite a lot, as I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I got the kukicha tea, a barbecued seitan/avocado sushi roll (half size), a vegetable soup and a really delicious ramen bowl, which ended up being huge! It had veggies and noodles and lots of broth, and I took home the leftovers, which were considerable. My food and tea was served by an adorable waitress who bowed to me whenever she placed a dish in front of me, and to whom I couldn't help but bow back! I wasn't sure which spoon I was suppose to use for what - I used the chop sticks for the seitan rolls, but that was really messy. The soup I had with a regular spoon, but I learned that the white ceramic spoon with the flat bottom is for ramen. It's a little awkward to fit in my mouth, but it worked, and my food was too good to notice. Anyway, I had to get in and out quickly so as not to miss the show, so I didn't get to try any of the delicious looking desserts. I'll report back after tomorrow!

Anyway, if you've never had a chance to visit the Los Angeles Theater on Broadway and 6th, you are missing out. This place is beyond gorgeous - it's so beautiful I would happily get married there. I realized then that that's why the venue opened up an hour before the movie started... just so people can wander around and admire the splendor of the interior. There are several levels of the theater itself, with a balcony and mezzanine. The bowels of the theater are where the bathrooms are (eww, gross, no pun intended) and these bathrooms are truly gems. I felt like a princess walking through the mirrored ante-chamber and could only imagine a bride with all her attendants getting ready for a wedding.

Once I get settled in my seat (which was nearly center - oh, the boons of sitting singly), I realized that the house was packed! Completely sold out. The director of the L.A. Conservancy spoke about the Conservancy's work and upcoming projects, mentioned the evening's sponsors, which included 213, my favorite nightlife company (I even saw Cedd Moses outside the theater when I checked in), and then introduced Matthew Weiner - the creator of Mad Men! What a thrill!

Matthew got up and spoke a bit about Mad Men, working with Robert Morse (Cooper on the show) and about the film and it's run on Broadway. Robert Morse and the film's other star - Michelle Lee - were both on hand that night, and indulged the audience with some stories of Broadway, making the film, and some singing and dancing! They were great.

Once the curtains finally parted and the lights went dim, I really had no idea what to expect. But let me tell you, "How To Succeed in Business..." is spectacular! I really don't care for most musicals, but this was smart, funny, romantic, and had choreography by Bob Fosse! I loved the '60s fashion, the storyline, the music, everything! Robert Morse was amazing - I really want to cue it up on Netflix just so I can watch it again. I really loved this movie. I believe it won a Tony, and I can only imagine seeing the original cast on New York's Broadway. I certainly came close that night on Broadway West.

The Wednesday following I did much of the same - that night the film was Hitchcock's "Strangers On a Train" and the venue was the Million Dollar Theater, at 3rd and Broadway. My dinner at Shojin ran a little long as I left work a little later, but it was amazing for a second time! It took me a while to find parking near the theater as it was later, but I made it just as the film was starting. I didn't get the chance to look around as much, but I'll get the opportunity for another showing later this month. Anyway, surprise, surprise, "Strangers" was fantastic as well! I never cease to be amazed by all the great films that have come before, and I wish I had more time to see them! What a creepy-comic film - great for this June gloomy weather we're having. The film was preceded this time by a cartoon from Warner Brothers about a bull dog who cares for a kitty cat - so funny! I missed the opening remarks, but I'm sure they were interesting, as well.

Anyway, have I sold you yet?? Get your tickets for The Last Remaining Seats already! They are mostly sold out, except for the last two. Here's the link: http://www.laconservancy.org/remaining/index.php4


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