Thursday, February 11, 2010

Broadway Theatres: The Old and the Beautiful, Part 2

Last month, I began a series of blogs about the theatres of Broadway.  There are currently 40 active "Broadway Theatres,"  and I have already discussed the 10 youngest, beginning with the Hilton Theatre, which opened in 1998, and ending with the St. James Theatre, which opened in September of 1927.  The mid to late 20's, you will see, saw a boom in theatre construction.

Today, I will highlight the next 10 oldest, beginning with the Majestic Theatre, currently home to Broadway's longest running show ever, The Phantom of the Opera.  Researching these glorious buildings has brought back a flood of wonderful memories about some great moments, great stars and great shows that I've had the fortune to see, as well as some wishes for a time machine to take me back to some other historical moments in theatre history.  I hope you enoy!

NOTE: Especially as the theatres get older, it is really not possible to name every single production that ever played at each one.  I have chosen a selection of the more famous shows for inclusion here.

30.  Majestic Theatre
  • Opened: March 28, 1927
  • Opening Production: Rufus LeMaire's Affairs
  • Current Tenant: The Phantom of the Opera
  • Notable Productions: 42nd Street, Carousel, South Pacific, A Little Night Music, The Music Man, Camelot, The Wiz
  • Notable Flops: Anyone Can Whistle, Tovarich, Breakfast at Tiffany's, I Remember Mama

29. The John Golden Theatre
  • Opened: February 24, 1927 as The Theatre Masque
  • Opening Production: Puppets of Passion (an ironic title considering that its longest-running tenant is Avenue Q!)
  • Current Tenant: Red
  • Notable Productions: Avenue Q, The Fourposter, Waiting for Godot, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Gin Game, Master Class, Falsettos
  • Notable Flops: Oleanna, P.S. Your Cat is Dead

The Original Production of Grease

28. Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
  • Opened: January 11, 1927 as the Royale Theatre; for a time it was the John Golden Theatre, then it returned as the Royale until it was renamed the Bernard B. Jacobs in 2005.
  • Opening Production: Piggy (a musical comedy)
  • Current Tenant: God of Carnage
  • Notable Productions: Frost/Nixon, Art, An Inspector Calls (revival), Lend Me a Tenor, Song and Dance, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • Notable Flops: 13, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (revival), Triumph of Love, Roza

27. Brooks Atkinson Theatre
  • Opened: February 15, 1926 as the Mansfield Theatre until it was renamed for theatre critic Brooks Atkinson in 1960.
  • Opening Production: The Night Duel
  • Current Tenant: Rock of Ages
  • Notable Productions: Grease (2007 revival), Wait Until Dark (revival), She Loves Me (revival), Redwood Curtain, Death and the Maiden
  • Notable Flops: The Times They Are A-Changin', The Blonde in the Thunderbird, The Look of Love, Street Corner Symphony, Play On!

26. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
  • Opened: December 7, 1925 as the Biltmore Theatre, renamed the Samuel J. Friedman in 2008; currently the Broadway home of the Manhattan Theatre Club
  • Opening Production: Easy Come, Easy Go
  • Current Tenant: Time Stands Still
  • Notable Productions: Rabbit Hole, Hair, Barefoot in the Park
  • Notable Flops: LoveMusik, Stardust

25. Eugene O'Neill Theatre
  • Opened: November 24, 1925 as the Forrest Theatre; renamed the Coronet Theatre in 1945, until it was renamed the Eugene O'Neill in 1959.
  • Opening Production: Mayflowers
  • Current Tenant: Fela!
  • Notable Productions: Spring Awakening, The Full Monty, Sweeney Todd (2006 revival), Grease! (1994 revival), M. Butterfly, Big River, California Suite, The Odd Couple
  • Notable Flops: Good Vibrations, La Bete, Moose Murders, Fools

24. August Wilson Theatre
  • Opened: April 13, 1925 as The Guild Theatre; renamed the ANTA, then the Virginia Theatre.  Renamed for playwright August Wilson in 2005.
  • Opening Production: Caesar and Cleopatra
  • Current Tenant: Jersey Boys
  • Notable Productions: Smokey Joe's Cafe, Jelly's Last Jam, City of Angels, The Owl and the Pussy Cat
  • Notable Flops: Little Women, King Hedley II, The Wild Party, Carrie
23. Richard Rodgers Theatre
  • Opened: February 7, 1925 as Chanin's 46th Street Theatre; later just the 46th Street Theatre, and renamed the Richard Rodgers in 1990.
  • Opening Production: The Greenwich Village Follies of 1925
  • Current Tenant: In the Heights
  • Notable Productions: Movin' Out, 1776, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying! (revival), Lost in Yonkers, Fences, Arsenic and Old Lace (revival), Damn Yankees, Chicago (original and revival), Nine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  • Notable Flops: Tarzan, 45 Seconds from Broadway, Seussical, Steel Pier, Side Show

The Giant's boot stomps on the Martin Beck for Into the Woods

22. Al Hirschfeld Theatre
  • Opened: November 11, 1924 as the Martin Beck Theatre; renamed the Al Hirschfeld in 2003.
  • Opening Production: Madame Pompadour
  • Current Tenant: Hair
  • Notable Productions: Curtains, Sweet Charity (2005 revival), Man of La Mancha (2002 revival and a transfer of the original), Grand Hotel: The Musical, Moon Over Buffalo, Into the Woods
  • Notable Flops: A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical, The Wedding Singer, The Sweet Smell of Success, The Rink, Bring Back Birdie, Hallelujah, Baby!

21. The Broadway Theatre
  • Opened: January 25, 1924 as B.S. Moss's Colony Theatre; eventually renamed The Broadway Theatre in 1939. 
  • Opening Production: The New Yorkers
  • Current Tenant: Promises, Promises
  • Notable Productions: The Color Purple, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Zorba (revival), Evita, Gypsy
  • Notable Flops: Shrek: The Musical, Bombay Dreams, Big Deal, The Happy Time

Look for Part 3 in the coming weeks, when I blog about the next 10 oldest theatres on Broadway.

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