Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Broadway Theatres: The Old and the Beautiful, Part 1

Earlier this month, I was surprised, then curious to find out that the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre turned 100 years old!  I mean, we all complain about the cramped seats, especially at the older theatres, and you can tell the buildings have been around for ages, but when you put a number on it like 100 years old, it is still impressive.

So my curiosity got the best of me and I just had to find out which currently operating Broadway theatre was the oldest, the newest, etc.  Then, I got into which shows played where - finding out where the original production of A Streetcar Named Desire played was cool, after reading about 2 or 3 other revivals of it.  (Sometimes you forget a classic was brand new one day!)  And I found out that nearly every single theatre on Broadway has played host to a Shakespeare play and at least one production of The Mikado!

Along the way, I found that the Hilton Theatre has its own very cool and very interesting website ( where you can see pictures of the before and after as two theatres - the Lyric and the Apollo were combined to make one huge new showplace.  And I also found that the Shubert Theatres have a great place to see pictures and read up on the histories of their theatres at

Well, I thought I'd share my findings about the 40 (!) currently operating Broadway houses.  I've divided them into four separate blogs, which I'll space out over the coming weeks.  I've arranged them from newest theatre to oldest, and I've included the name they were first given if different, the show that opened the theatre, the current tenant, notable successes and notable less-than-successes.  I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

40.  The Hilton Theatre
  • Opened: January 18, 1998; a re-construction, joining the Lyric and Apollo Theatres; Originally The Ford Center for the Performing Arts; 42nd Street Entrance (above)
  • Opening Production: Ragtime
  • Current Tenant: Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark
  • Notable Productions: Ragtime, 42nd Street (Revival)
  • Notable Flops: The Pirate Queen, Hot Feet

39.  Marquis Theatre
  • Opened: July 9, 1986; BoxOffice and Times Square Marquee (above)
  • Opening Production: Shirley Bassey in Concert; Me and My Girl
  • Current Tenant: Come Fly Away
  • Notable Productions: Me and My Girl, Annie Get Your Gun (Revival; Bernadette Peters, Reba McIntyre), The Drowsy Chaperone, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Damn Yankees (Revival), Victor/Victoria
  • Notable Flops: Nick and Nora, Shogun: The Musical, The Goodbye Girl

38.  Minskoff Theatre
  • Opened: March 13, 1973; 45th Street Entrance (above)
  • Opening Production: Irene a musical starring Debbie Reynolds.
  • Current Tennant: The Lion King
  • Notable Productions: Sunset Boulevard, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1.0 and 2.0), Black and Blue, Sweet Charity (1986 Revival; Debbie Allen, Bebe Neuwirth)
  • Notable Flops: Metro, Teddy & Alice, Rockabye Hamlet, Got Tu Go Disco, Dance a Little Closer

37.  George Gershwin Theatre
  • Opened: November 28, 1972; Originally named the Uris Theatre; One Entrance (Top); The Breezeway and Lobby Entrance (above, bottom)
  • Opening Production: Via Galactica!
  • Current Tenant: Wicked
  • Notable Productions: Porgy and Bess (Revival), The King and I (1977 Revival - Yul Brynner's farewell), Sweeney Todd, Show Boat (Revival), Starlight Express, Oklahoma! (2002 revival)
  • Notable Flops: Mame (1983 Revival), Singin' in the Rain, The Red Shoes, Meet Me in St. Louis

36.  Circle in the Square Theatre
  • Opened: November 15, 1972; The Other Entrance (above)
  • Opening Production: Mourning Becomes Electra (Revival)
  • Current Tenant: The Miracle Worker
  • Notable Productions: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Rocky Horror Show (Revival), Frozen, Coastal Disturbances
  • Notable Flops: Glory Days, Anna Karenina: The Musical

35.  The Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center
  • Opened: October 21, 1965; Lincoln Center Promenade (above)
  • Opening Production: Danton's Death
  • Current Tenant: South Pacific (Revival)
  • Notable Productions: The Coast of Utopia, The Light in the Piazza, Contact, Arcadia, Carousel (Revival that introduced Audra Ann McDonald), Six Degrees of Separation, Anything Goes (1987 Revival; Patti LuPone, Howard McGillin)
  • Notable Flops: Marie Christine, Parade, The Frogs

NOTE: There are over 37 years between "New" Theatres!

34.  Ethel Barrymore Theatre
  • Opened: December 20, 1928; Exterior (Top); Interior (Bottom, above)
  • Opening Production: The Kingdom of God
  • Current Tenant: Race
  • Notable Productions: Speed-the-Plow (Revival). Company (Revival), The Life, Wait Until Dark, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Women
  • Notable Flops: Ring of Fire, Jezebel, Wife Insurance (A Comedy!)

33.  Neil Simon Theatre
  • Opened: November 22, 1927; Originally named the Alvin Theatre; 2005 - Hairspray (Top); circa 1970 - Company (Center); Interior (Bottom, above) - Is that the Brighton Beach Memoirs set?
  • Opening Production: Funny Face
  • Current Tenant: --
  • Notable Productions: Hairspray, The King and I (1996 Revival; Donna Murphy, Lou Diamond Phillips), Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Annie, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anything Goes
  • Notable Flops: Cyrano: The Musical, Senator Joe, Into the Light, Little Johnny Jones, Merrily We Roll Along, Wildcat

32.  Studio 54
  • Opened: November 7, 1927; Originally The Gallo Opera House.  Renamed several times.  The Entrance (Top); The Lobby (Bottom, above)
  • Opening Production: La Boehme
  • Current Tenant: Sondheim on Sondheim
  • Notable Productions: Cabaret (1998 Revival), A Streetcar Named Desire (Revival with Natasha Richardson), Assassins
  • Notable Flops: Pal Joey, The Apple Tree (Both revivals)

31.  St. James Theatre
  • Opened: September 26, 1927; Originally The Erlanger Theater; The Exterior (above)
  • Opening Production: The Merry Malones (Written, directed and starring George M. Cohan)
  • Current Tenant: American Idiot
  • Notable Productions: Gypsy (Patti LuPone), The producers, The Who's Tommy, The Secret Garden, Gypsy (Tyne Daly), My One and Only, Barnum, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hello, Dolly!, The King and I (Original Production), Oklahoma! (Original Production)
  • Notable Flops: The Civil War, High Society, Subways Are For Sleeping, Hello, Daddy!

Look for the next 10 oldest Broadway theatres soon!

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