warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Downton Abbey' Hosts Season 5 Screening At The Ace Hotel

Kristin Marguerite Doidge |
January 5, 2015 | 9:42 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The ladies of "Downton Abbey" are back for season five (Twitter/@VogueMagazine).
The ladies of "Downton Abbey" are back for season five (Twitter/@VogueMagazine).
What do you get when you mix an iconic, majestic old Hollywood theater with masterful storytelling on-screen, brought to life in front of a live audience in the heart of downtown LA? Pure magic. 

I attended a special advance screening of the "Downton Abbey" season five premiere on Jan. 3 at The Theatre at The Ace Hotel, presented by PBS SoCaL. It seemed like we were transported to another era - dare I say it, to Downton Abbey in the 1920s perhaps - through what seemed like the magic of live theater.

For any fan of "Downton," you know that everything about it begs for a movie theater-size screen, and we were richly rewarded with that and more. Because of the show's stunning cinematography, flawless art direction, and impeccable acting and writing, seeing and hearing it in its fully glory left no question as to why it has become the highest-rated drama for PBS. 

READ MORE: A Definitive Ranking Of 'Downton Abbey' Couples

The shared visual experience at The Ace took the Sunday night ritual of watching "Downton" on a television screen to a whole new level. The nearly packed theater, which can hold up to 1600 audience members, was “delicately restored” in late 2013 to maintain the original 1927 features of what was the iconic United Artists’ movie palace.

Today, every single inch of the theater harkens back to an era of Old World craftsmanship. From the mural artwork on the vaulted, arched ceilings, to the ornate bronze balconies, to the vintage concession stands, it’s the perfect place to host a nostalgic event like this one. And even the bathrooms have been restored with their original features, complete with dressing room mirrors and vanities that look like something straight out of Lady Mary’s bedroom. How’s that for life reflecting art?

The audience included men and women of all ages (some cloaked in full costume!), reinforcing the incredible draw that "Downton" has through its powerful stories of love, loss, family and power. And it wasn’t a quiet, Edwardian-era audience either; we cheered and laughed at the high points (like when Mr. Carson was asked to be on the committee for the war memorial, or when Mr. Barrow was finally put in his place by Lady Grantham), and sat in awe and silence when the young, brash teacher spoke out of turn to Lord Grantham at the dinner table. 

With the usual standout performances by the incomparable, fabulously snarky Maggie Smith (as the Dowager Countess), Michelle Dockery (as Lady Mary), and the rest of the talented cast, the episode packed a ton of dramatic punch and left a number of loose ends for stories to unfold throughout the rest of the season. Though I missed the special high tea at LA Chapter next door after the screening on Saturday, perhaps we’ll “luncheon” there next week to discuss the latest "Downton" gossip before the next episode airs. 

"Downton Abbey," Season 5, airs Sundays, Jan. 4 - March 1, 2015 on MASTERPIECE (PBS SoCaL’s KOCE TV-HD). 

READ MORE: TV Premiere Dates For 2015

Reach Staff Reporter Kristin Marguerite Doidge here or follow her on Twitter here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.