James Roday, the star of USA’s television series Psych, and former child actor turned television director Matt Shakman are the proud new owners of Hollywood’s historic El Centro Theatre.
The El Centro was founded as The Circle Theatre by Charlie Chaplin‘s son Sydney Earle Chaplin and other UCLA students in 1946. It later took over the building next door that at the time housed an auto shop, although at one time it was one of Hollywood’s earliest movie theaters. Since then the El Centro has housed two stages, The Circle (99 seats) and The Chaplin (45 seats).
Though most famous for his role on Psych, Roday has a long history with theatre and is the co-founder of the company Red Dog Squadron, which actually staged a play directed by Roday at the El Centro in January 2011. Shakman also has a theatrical background as the founder and Artistic Director of the Black Dahlia Theatre. The two met when Shakman directed an episode of Psych in 2006 (Shakman has since directed three other episodes).
Once the El Centro undergoes two months of renovations following the closing of its current production of Hair, the El Centro will be home to future Red Dog and Black Dahlia productions. Roday is keeping quiet on the nature of the renovations, saying, “We’re going to give the place a makeover. We don’t want to say too much yet because we have some big ideas, and in case they don’t all happen, we don’t want to create expectations or make promises we can’t make good on.”
Roday admits he acted once he was alerted of the theatre’s uncertain future. He says that the manager “sent me an email [in April] that basically said, ‘Dude [the owner] is selling the theater, and I’m a little concerned that this could fall into the hands of someone who doesn’t care if this stays a theater. Would you at all be interested?'” The two then purchased the El Centro for $800,000.
It’s great to see those successful in the entertainment business giving back in a way by operating a venue that can provide work for other actors. Good luck with the “new” theatre, guys!