This week the news finally came of Broadway’s imminent return, as I wrote about here yesterday. Broadway has, of course, been shut in its entirety since March 12, 2020, when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that on that day: “We are taking new actions to reduce the density of people across the state. Starting Friday at 5PM, gatherings with 500 people or more will not be permitted in NYS. Additionally, for facilities with an occupancy of 500 or fewer, we are reducing the legal capacity by 50%. For Broadway theaters in Manhattan, these rules will go into effect at 5PM today. We have already spoken to the theaters about these new measures and they agreed.”
Thus began the longest shutdown in Broadway history. But though there been a few trial events in the last few weeks, and a few off-Broadway shows are back playing to severely reduced capacities of a third of the usual house, Broadway isn’t planning on being back till September at the earliest, even though New York is now due to come out of restrictions in July.
There are currently 41 active Broadway theatres, as defined by the Broadway League; all but one is in the Broadway theatre district (an area of midtown that runs between 41st and 54th Street, bounded by 8th Avenue on the west and 6th Avenue on the east). The one that falls outside those streets is the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Centre — while, within the same building, is the downstairs studio the Mitzi E Newhouse, which is designated at an Off-Broadway house.
That’s because it has under 500 seats, the minimum number that is required to be designated a Broadway one. So even though the Theatre Center, at Broadway and 50th Street (and home to New York’s longest-ever running play, Perfect Crime), is not only on Broadway itself but also within those charmed streets, it, too, is designated an Off-Broadway house.
One further note: I’m not including theatres that have either been demolished, or re-purposed, like the gorgeous Mark Hellinger — original home of My Fair Lady — on 51st street, that is now an evangelical church, or the Ed Sullivan Theatre, originally Hammerstein’s Theatre, that is now a TV studio that is home to the David Letterman Show.
Of those 41 designated Broadway houses, I can’t possibly choose just ten favourites; so I’m going to choose my top ten favourite Broadway streets instead!
TO LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S ShenTens PODCAST:
1. 45th Street
Overview: 45th Street is, in my opinion, the greatest theatrical boulevard in the world: running west to east from 8th Avenue to the other side of Broadway, there are nine Broadway houses concentrated here, seven of them in the stretch between 8th and 7th that is the most iconic stretch of Broadway houses in town (pictured above, by Kieran Brown).
These eight theatres are as follows:
- AL HIRSCHFELD THEATRE (302 West 45th Street)
Background: Formerly the Martin Beck, it was renamed for the legendary theatrical caricaturist from the New York Times in 2003, and is the only Broadway theatre west of 8th Avenue.
Seats: 1,424 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/al-hirschfeld
Current show: Moulin Rouge (since 2019), pictured above by Kieran Brown
Biggest hits: Guys and Dolls (1992-1995), Kinky Boots (2013-2019)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen there: Kander and Ebb’s The Rink (1984, a short-lived musical that starred Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera); the original Broadway production of Sondheim and Lapine’s Into the Woods (1987-1989); the original Broadway production of Grand Hotel (1989-1992)
Most Notorious Flop: Sweet Smell of Success (2002, a musical with a score by Marvin Hamlisch that was directed by Nicholas Hytner)
- IMPERIAL THEATRE (249 West 45th Street)
Seats: 1,443 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/imperial
Current show: Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations
Biggest hits: the original production of Dreamgirls (1981-1985); The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985-7); Les Miserables (1990-2003, after transferring from the Broadway; it then returned in a different production from 2014-2016); Billy Elliot (2008-2012)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen there: The Boy from Oz (2003, a biographical jukebox show about the late showman Peter Allen, played by Hugh Jackman)
Most Notorious Flop: Chess (1988, transferred from London, but in a brand-new production that then flopped badly; Trevor Nunn’s production ran over 4 hours at its first preview, and Don Black, who was in the audience, is reported to have quipped he had to leave, as he was hoping to see his children grow up).
- MUSIC BOX THEATRE (239 West 45th Street)
Background: Built by Irving Berlin and producer Sam H Harris for the Music Box Revues, 1921-24; it was co-owned by the Berlin family with the Shubert Organisation until 2007, with the Shuberts then taking full ownership
Seats: 1,009 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/music-box
Current show: Dear Evan Hansen
Favourite shows I’ve seen there: the transfers from London of Blood Brothers (1993, starring Stephanie Lawrence), Closer (1999, Patrick Marber’s play with a cast that featured Natasha Richardson, Anna Friel, Rupert Graves and Ciaran Hinds), Jerusalem (2011, starring Mark Rylance), One Man Two Guvnors (2012, starring James Corden); I also saw the original Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway debut with A Few Good Men (1989) and the wonderful circus-based revival of Pippin (2013)
Most Notorious Flops: In My Life (2005); Welcome to the Club (Cy Coleman, 1989); Shuffle Along (2016)
- MINSKOFF THEATRE (200 West 45th Street)
Seats: 1,710 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/minskoff
Current show: The Lion King
Favourite shows I’ve seen there: Sunset Boulevard (1994) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1998) — Andrew Lloyd Webber and Frank Wildhorn (in his second Broadway musical) provided scores that were guilty pleasures of sumptuous melody tied to corny stories. But my absolute favourite was The Tap Dance Kid (1984), Henry Krieger’s second musical after Dreamgirls, that was a tap-dancing spectacular starring Hinton Battle.
Most notorious flops: Dance of the Vampires (2002, starring Michael Crawford as Count von Krolock, this gothic horror story, scored by Jim Steinman, came to Broadway via run in Germany)
- BOOTH THEATRE (222 West 45th Street)
Seats: 766 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/booth
Last tenant: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (closed after 9 previews when Broadway shut down on March 12, 2020, and will not now re-open; it starred Rupert Everett, Laurie Metcalf, Patsy Ferran, Russell Tovey)Favourite shows I’ve seen here: the original productions of Sondheim and Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George (1984); Ahrens and Flaherty’s Once on this Island (1990); and Next to Normal (2009-2011)
- GERALD SCHOENFELD THEATRE (236 West 45th Street)
Background: Previously the Plymouth, it was renamed for the late Shubert Organisation executive in 2005
Seats: 1,079 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/gerald-schoenfeld
Current show: Come From Away
Biggest hit (and flop): Jekyll and Hyde (1997-2001, though it never turned a profit in that time and closed without recouping its investment)
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: The Broadway premiere of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (1984, with Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close); the original Broadway production of Sondheim and Lapine’s Passion (1994)
Most Notorious Flop: Taboo (2003, Boy George’s musical, produced by Rosie O’Donnell)
- BERNARD B JACOBS THEATRE (242 West 45th Street)
Background: Previously Royale, it was renamed for the late Shubert Organisation executive Bernard B Jacobs in 2005. Opened: 1927
Seats: 1,078 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/bernard-b-jacobs
Current show: Company (transferred from West End; it played 9 previews from March 2, 2020, before the Broadway shutdown on March 12, and is yet to open officially)
Biggest hits: Once (2012-2015); Three Days of Rain (2006, starring Julia Roberts), transfers from London of An Inspector Calls (1994), Skylight (1996) and Art (1998)
Favourite Show I’ve seen here: The Color Purple (transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory, ran 2015-17)
Most Notorious Flop: Roza! (1987, this Hal Prince directed musical ran for just 12 performances; I saw one of them!)
- JOHN GOLDEN THEATRE (252 West 45th Street)
Seats: 805 seats on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/john-golden
Next production: Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of a Colored Man (dates tbc); last show, Hangmen never opened (it played 13 previews from February 28, before Broadway was shut down on March 12)
Biggest hits: Master Class (1995-1997; Zoe Caldwell played Maria Callas in Terence McNally’s play); the original production of Avenue Q (2003-2009),
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: the original Broadway productions of William Finn’s musical Falsettos (1992) and Edward Albee’s The Goat (or Who is Sylvia?) (2002), plus revivals of Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy (2010, with Vanessa Redgrave/James Earl Jones); Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (2014, with Elaine Stritch); Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (2018, with Glenda Jackson), Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverley Gallery (2018, with Elaine May)
- LYCEUM THEATRE (149 West 45th Street)
Seats: 922, on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/lyceum
Current show: Sing Street (musical due to transfer from New York Theatre Workshop, but it never began previews when Broadway shut down on March 12).
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: [title of show] (2008, transferred from the Vineyard Theatre); Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys (2010, transferred from the Vineyard Theatre); Kander and Ebb’s The Visit (2015); A View from the Bridge (2015, transferred from Young Vic of Ivo Van Hove’s production); The Visit (2015)
2. 44th Street
Overview: Not quite matching 45th Street’s nine theatres, this is still quite a street, with seven theatres, five of them between Broadway and 8th (three of which are great musicals houses), and two more between Broadway and 6th.
- SAM SHUBERT THEATRE (225 West 44th Street)
Background: named for Sam Shubert, who died in train crash in 1905)
Seats: 1,460 on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/shubert
Current show: To Kill a Mockingbird (since 2018)
Biggest hits: A Chorus Line (1975-1990); it was also the original Broadway home to Bells are Ringing (1956); Promises Promises (1968) and Sondheim and Wheeler’s A Little Night Music (1973)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: the original production of Crazy for You (1992-1996), Gypsy (2003, with Bernadette Peters as Momma Rose), Matilda (2013, transferred from London), Hello Dolly (2017, revival starring Bette Midler; front of house pictured above, by Kieran Brown)
Most Notorious Flop: Big (1996)
- ST JAMES THEATRE (246 West 44th Street)
Opened: 1927. Seats: 1,709 on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/st-james
Most recent production: Disney’s Frozen (it was announced it was not coming back, after shutting down on March 12, 2020)
Biggest hit: the original production of The Producers (2001-2007)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (starring Nathan Lane, 1996); Gypsy (starring Tyne Daly, 1989; and another revival starring Patti LuPone, 2008)
Most notorious flop: Leap of Faith, 2012; with a score by Alan Menken and starring Raul Esparza, this musical ran for just 19 performances)
- MAJESTIC THEATRE (245 West 44th Street)
Seats: 1,645 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/majestic
Current show: The Phantom of the Opera (since 1988; now the longest running show in Broadway history; it will resume performances from October 22; pictured above by Kieran Brown)
Favourite Show I’ve seen here: 42nd Street (the very first Broadway show I ever saw, in 1983 after it had transferred from its original home the Winter Garden
Shows I wish I’d seen here: the original Broadway productions of South Pacific (1949, with Mary Martin); The Music Man (1957, with Barbara Cook as Marion Paroo, Robert Preston as Harold Hill); Anyone Can Whistle (1964, with Angela Lansbury); The Act (1977, with Liza Minnelli), Ballroom (1978, with Dorothy Loudon
Also on this street are the Broadhurst and Helen Hayes (the latter now owned by Second Stage); and on the other side of 7th Avenue, the Hudson and the Belasco, see entry below)
3. 42nd Street
Overview: A Broadway street that even had a musical named after it, where it is famously referred to as “naughty, gawdy, bawdy, sporty 42nd Street”.
This street was reclaimed from the porn, prostitution and drug dereliction that it had descended into in the 70s and 80s (as documented in the film Taxi Driver, shown above); and restored as a major theatrical hub, when Disney took ownership of the New Amsterdam Theatre and re-opened it as the original home of The Lion King in 1997. More theatres were regenerated subsequently, including the Selwyn (now called the American Airlines) and the Lyric (forged by merging the Lyric and Ambassadors); as well as the New Victory, home to a company specialising in children’s theatre.
- NEW AMSTERDAM THEATRE (214 West 42nd Street)
Background: Original home of the Ziegfeld Follies, it was subsequently used as a cinema, then a porn cinema, before Disney acquired it (see above).
Seats: 1,747 on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/new-amsterdam
Current Show: Aladdin (since 2014)
Biggest hits: The Lion King (1997-2006, then transferred to the Minskoff); and Mary Poppins (2006-2013)
- AMERICAN AIRLINES THEATRE (227 West 42nd Street)
Background: Originally called the Selwyn Theatre, it re-opened as the American Airlines Theatre in 2000 after Roundabout Theatre Company acquired the venue as its Broadway home; they also now own Studio 54 on 54th Street (see below).
Seats: 740 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/american-airlines
Favourite Show I’ve seen here: The Women (2001, Clare Booth Luce’s play revived with a stellar comic cast that included Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Tilly, Rue McClanahan and Cynthia Nixon); The Pajama Game (2006, revival of the classic musical with Harry Connick Jr as Sid, Kelli O’Hara as Babe Williams); On the Twentieth Century, 2015 (2015, Cy Coleman’s musical revived with a cast that included Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher, Mary-Louise Wilson and Andy Karl)
- LYRIC THEATRE (213 West 42nd Street)
Background: Created by merging the former Lyric and Academy Theatres on 42nd and 41st Street into one larger theatre by Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky in 1998, it opened in 1998 as the original home of his production of Ragtime as the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts; it subsequently underwent name changes, to the Hilton and Foxwoods, as well as a change of ownership to Britain’s Ambassador Theatre Group.
Seats: 1,622 on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/lyric
Current show: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (since 2018)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: Ragtime (1998-2000); a revival of On the Town (2014)Most Notorious Flops: Spiderman – Turn off the Dark (2011-2014; it previewed for six months, and ran three years without recouping its $70m investment); Boublil and Schonberg’s The Pirate Queen (2007)
4. 47th Street
Overview: There are three Broadway houses here, including the Brooks Atkinson (one of two theatres named for a drama critic; see Walter Kerr, below, for the other), and the Samuel J Friedman (named for a celebrated Broadway press agent, and Broadway home to the Manhattan Theatre Club who also have two off-Broadway theatres at City Center on w55th Street); but I’m concentrating on one only:
- ETHEL BARRYMORE THEATRE (243 West 47th Street)
Seats: 1,096 on two levels. Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/ethel-barrymore
Most recent show: transfer of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance from London, played its final performance on March 11 2020 when Broadway was shut down the next day.
Biggest hits: the transfer of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime from London’s National Theatre (which ran from 2014-2016); The Band’s Visit, a Tony winning musical (which ran 2017-2019)Favourite shows I’ve seen here: A Streetcar Named Desire (1992, with Alec Baldwin, Jessica Lange); Death of a Salesman (2012,with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman and Andrew Garfield making his Broadway debut as Biff); Betrayal (2013, with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall)
5. 48th Street
- WALTER KERR THEATRE (219 West 48th Street)
Background: Previously the Ritz, it was renamed for the former drama critic of the New York Times in 1990. It’s sometimes said that no one ever built a statue to a critic, but they did name a Broadway theatre after two — the other is the Brooks Atkinson, see above)
Seats: 945 on three levels (the 3rd level balcony only has two rows)
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/walter-kerr
Current show: Hadestown (since 2019)
Most notable shows: Springsteen on Springsteen, (2017-18, played 229 solo performances); it was also the original Broadway home of Angels in America (1993-4), the Broadway premieres of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running; Seven Guitars and Gem of the Ocean); and the transfers for Proof, Take Me Out and Doubt from Off-Broadway.
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: A Little Night Music (2009, transferred from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory); and Grey Gardens (2006, transferred from Playwrights’ Horizons)
Most Notorious Flop: I Hate Hamlet (1991, starring Nicol Williamson, who famously assaulted his co-star Evan Handler with a prop sword mid-performance)
- LONGACRE THEATRE (220 West 48th Street)
Seats: 1,091 on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/longacre
Current show: Diana (since 2020)
Biggest hit: A Bronx Tale — The Musical (2016-18, directed by Robert De Niro, who also made his only Broadway stage appearance at this theatre in 1986 in Cuba and His Teddy Bear)
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: the transfers from London of Boeing-Boeing (2008, starring Mark Rylance) and La Cage Aux Folles (2010, from the Menier Chocolate Factory with Douglas Hodge reprising his London role as Zsa Zsa); The Prom (2018)
Most Notorious Flops: Living on Love (2015, starring Renee Fleming): The Performers (2012, a play about the porn industry starring Henry Winkler and Cheyenne Jackson about which the New York Times wrote that it “offers proof positive that it’s possible to talk real dirty and still be the squarest show in town.”
6. 52nd Street
- AUGUST WILSON THEATRE (245 W52nd Street)
Background: Formerly the Virginia, it was renamed for the great American contemporary playwright August Wilson in 2005
Seats: 1,228 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/august-wilson
Most recent tenant: Mean Girls — shut down by pandemic, it has been announced that it will not be returning
Biggest Hits: Two jukebox shows: Smokey Joe’s Cafe (1995-2000);
Jersey Boys (2005-2017)
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: the original production of City of Angels (1989-1992); Groundhog Day (2017)
Most Notorious Flop: Carrie (1988), ran for 16 previews and 5 performances
- NEIL SIMON THEATRE (250 West 52nd Street)
Background: Formerly the Alvin, it was renamed for the great American comedy playwright Neil Simon in 1983
Seats 1467 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/neil-simon
Next show: MJ The Musical
Biggest hit: Hairspray (2002-2009)
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: revivals of Ragtime (2009) and Jesus Christ Superstar (2012), from Washington DC and Stratford, Ontario respectively; Sting’s The Last Ship (2014), pictured below, the composer outside the theatre.
Most Notorious Flop: Scandalous – The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson (2012, a short lived musical produced by Trump benefactors Betsy and Dick DeVos; Betsy DeVos became Trump’s infamous education secretary).
7. Theatres east of Broadway
Overview: There are only five of the 41 Broadway theatres located to the east of Broadway, plus the Palace Theatre on the east side of Times Square itself and currently closed My favourite, and one of the most beautiful of all of Broadway, is the Belasco, but I also love the Hudson (also 44th) and the historic Lyceum (see 45th Street above). There’s also the Cort (on 48th, soon to undergo a major refurbishment) and the Sondheim (on 43rd Street, is a brand-new theatre created on the site of the former Henry Miller Theatre).
- BELASCO THEATRE (111 West 44th Street)
Seats: 1,018 seats on three levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/belasco
Current show: The Girl from the North Country
Biggest hits: Transfers from Shakespeare’s Globe of Twelfth Night and Richard III (2013) and Farinelli and the King (2017), all starring Mark Rylance
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: Follies (2001 revival of the Sondheim masterpiece, with Blythe Danner, Treat Williams and Judith Ivey amongst the cast of Matthew Warchus’s production); End of the Rainbow (2012, transferred from the West End, starring Tracie Bennett 2012)
Most Notorious Flops: The Prince of Central Park (1989, a musical that ran for just three nights); Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula (2004); and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010, a David Yazbeck scored musical based on the Almodovar film)
- HUDSON THEATRE (145 W44th Street)
Seats: 970 seats
Upcoming shows: American Utopia (David Byrne’s staged rock concert, originally seen here in 2019, is due to return in September 2021, ahead of a revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, postponed from 2020. Biggest hit: This gorgeously refurbished gem was brought back into theatrical use after years of use as a corporate venue for the Hudson Hotel that it is part of next door by Britain’s Ambassador Theatre Group, who re-opened it with a revival of Sunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center is the biggest and most important cultural complex in New York: a campus of arts institutions that also include the Metropolitan Opera House, the David Koch Theatre (home of New York City Ballet), the David Geffen Hall (home of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra) and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
- VIVIAN BEAUMONT THEATRE (150 West 65th Street)
Background: This wrap-around auditorium, with a thrust stage that has the audience on three sides, is like a cross between Chichester Festival Theatre and London’s Gillian Lynne. It is operated by Lincoln Center Theatre, a not-for-profit organisation that also runs the downstairs Mitzi E Newhouse studio, and the rooftop Lincoln Center 3. LCT also occasionally produce in Broadway theatres as well.
Seats: 1,080 on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/vivian-beaumont
Next show: Flying Over Sunset (a new musical by Tom Kitt and Michael Korie)
Biggest hits: Anything Goes (1987-1989, starring Patti LuPone as Reno Sweeney); South Pacific (2008, starring Kelli O’Hara as Nellie Forbush); The King and I (2015, starring Kelli O’Hara, as Anna Leonowens) All three productions transferred to London, though the only one with the original star was The King and I.
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: Carousel (from London), 1994; The Light in the Piazza, 2005; Barbara Cook in concert, 2002 Most Sondheim, and 2004, Barbara Cook’s Broadway; My Fair Lady, 2018Saddest flop: Parade, 1998 (short lived run of Jason Robert Brown’s first Broadway score, which won him his first Tony Award)
- 54th Street, the most northerly theatre of the theatre district itself
- STUDIO 54 (254 West 54th Street)
Background: For a period in the late 70s and early 80s, Studio 54 was Manhattan’s glitziest night-club, frequented by the likes of Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger; it re-opened as a theatre in 1998 after Roundabout Theatre Company was forced to find a new home for its production of Cabaret after a construction crane collapsed over the Henry Miller Theatre it was playing at then. It continued to run there to 2004 (with Roundabout buying the theatre in 2003); they revived Cabaret there in 2014-15). In the basement of the theatre, Feinstein’s/54 Below has been carved out as Broadway’s most glamorous supper club, where the biggest Broadway stars have performed since 2012 in cabaret and is my favourite cabaret club in the world now.
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/studio-54
Next show: Caroline, or Change was about to begin previews when the pandemic arrived.
Biggest hit: Cabaret (see above)
Favourite shows I’ve seen here: 110 in the Shade (2007, starring Audra McDonald); Sunday in the Park with George (2008, transferred from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory); Sondheim on Sondheim (2010, a revue that featured Barbara Cook, Norm Lewis, and Vanessa Williams); She Loves Me (2016d)
Most Notorious Flop: The Ritz (2007, Terrence McNally’s bathhouse comedy, with a cast that included gay porn star Ryan Idol as Crisco)
- Theatres on Broadway itself
Background: Broadway is usually the generic term for the entire Broadway theatre district, but right here we mean the avenue itself, or rather the part of it that runs through Broadway and has some theatres on it.
It’s actually an avenue that runs the length of Manhattan, from Bowling Green downtown for 13 miles up through Manhattan, then two more miles through the Bronx, before running 18 more miles through Westchester County, including Yonkers — where you’ll find Horace Vandergelder, the spendthrift widower who is courted by Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly!
Broadway itself only has a handful of theatres, including the Broadway Theatre itself, at Bway and 53rd and the legendary Palace, currently being hoist by 30 feet above street level to create 15,000 square foot of ground-floor retail space as part of the new TSX hotel development on the corner of Broadway and 47th that replaces the former DoubleTree Suites hotel.
- PALACE THEATRE (1564 Broadway, on the east side of Broadway between 46th & 47th Street)
Background: Originally a vaudeville house that opened in 1913 by Martin Beck, founder of the Orpheum circuit and with his own Broadway theatre previously named after him that’s now the Hirchfeld (see 45th Street above)
Seats: 1,743 on three levels (pre-refurbishment)
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/palace
Biggest hit: Beauty and the Beast (1994-1999, before it moved to Lunt-Fotntanne)
Last tenant; SpongeBob Squarepants (2017-18, before the theatre closed for refurbishment and re-siting)
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: the original Broadway productions of La Cage Aux Folles (1983) and The Will Rogers Follies (1991)
Saddest night I’ve spent here: Minnelli on Minnelli (1999) – I cried watching my favourite Broadway star Liza Minnelli struggle through a tribute to her late father.
- WINTER GARDEN THEATRE (1634 Broadway, on the east side of Broadway between 50th and 51st).
Seats: 1,526 seats on two levels
Spotlight on Broadway video: http://spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/winter-garden
Next show: The Music Man, due to begin performances on December 1 (pictured above).
Biggest Hit: home to Cats for all of its 18 year run, from 1982 to 2000.
Favourite Shows I’ve seen here: I’ve seen every musical that has played Cats, including Mamma Mia! (the first new musical to open after 9/11; I attended the gypsy run on October 4, the night before its first preview, which was a really thrilling night; I also attended the show’s 10th anniversary performance there; it ran for two more years, then transferred to the Broadhurst. I also really loved the original productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock here in 2015 (his first musical since Jesus Christ Superstar in 1970 to receive its stage premiere on Broadway ahead of the West End0 and Beetlejuice (2019), that was forced out by The Music Man.
Favourite shows I wish I’d been to: I wished I seen the original productions of West Side Story (1957), Funny Girl (1964, with Barbra Streisand), Mame (1966, with Angela Lansbury), the premieres of Sondheim’s Follies (1971) and Pacific Overtures (1976), and the original production of 42nd Street (1980, subsequently moving to the Majestic and then the St James)
Most notorious flop: Rocky (2014)
Even though I’ve listed a lot of theatre streets, I’ve left out at least four entirely:
- 41st Street: this ‘forgotten’ street below 42nd Street was for a long time out of the theatrical loop, in the days when 42nd Street was a no-man’s land; but now that 42nd Street has returned, so has 41st and the Nederlander, ever since Rent played its entire Broadway run from 1996 to 2008.
- 46th Street: the Richard Rodgers — formerly the 46th Street Theatre — is currently home to Broadway’s revolutionary Hamilton (where it has been running since 2015). It has the most steeply raked stalls of any theatre on Broadway, so views are superb from the moment it starts elevating.
- 49th Street: Two long-term tenants occupy this street’s two theatres: Chicago at the Ambassador and The Book of Mormon at the Eugene O’Neill.
- 50th/51st Street: The Gershwin (formerly the Uris, renamed for the great Broadway composer George Gershwin in 1983) is one of Broadway’s largest capacity houses, with 1,933 seats, and the long-term home of Wicked since 2003, and the Circle in the Square in the basement of the same office building, is Broadway’s only theatre-in-the-round.
ShenTens is now produced fortnightly. The next episode of ShenTens will be released on May 21, looking at my top ten favourite Broadway cast albums.
Special thanks to my producer Paul Branch; Howard Goodall, for theme music; and Thomas Mann for the logo design. Also thanks to Kieran Brown for the use of his Broadway images, where credited: for more, visit: https://www.picfair.com/users/KieranBro