overview

Opened in 1924 as a motion picture/vaudeville house, the Broadway Theater began presenting legitimate theater in 1930. Major LGBT performers and creators associated with this venue include Raoul Pene Du Bois, Jerome Robbins, Mary Martin, Arthur Laurents, Irene Sharaff, Joel Grey, Linda Hopkins, and Yves Saint-Laurent, among others.

The theater’s historic front facade was covered in 1991, but its large historic interior survives.

Header Photo

Credit: Interior of the Broadway Theater. Source: Spotlight on Broadway.

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History

The Broadway Theater was opened in 1924 as a motion picture/vaudeville house, and began to present legitimate theater in 1930. Over the decades this theater has had a large number of hit plays with LGBT associations, many of which were transferred here after opening at other theaters. These included: Carmen Jones (1943-45), with costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; High Button Shoes (1948-49), choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and with scenic design by Oliver Smith, and costume design by Miles White (opened at the New Century Theater; Best Choreographer Tony Award); As the Girls Go (1949-50), choreographed by Hermes Pan (opened at the Winter Garden Theater); South Pacific (1953-54), with Mary Martin (opened at the Majestic Theater; Best Musical and Best Actress Tony Awards); The Music Man (1957-61), with costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois (opened at the Majestic Theater); West Side Story (1959) by Arthur Laurents, and with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, choreography by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro, scenic design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Irene Sharaff, and with actor Larry Kert (opened at the Winter Garden Theater; Best Scenic Design and Best Choreography Tony Awards); Gypsy (1959-60) by Arthur Laurents, directed by Jerome Robbins, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; My Fair Lady (1962), with production design by Oliver Smith and costume design by Cecil Beaton (opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater; Best Musical, Scenic Design, and Costume Design Tony Awards); Funny Girl (1966-67), with costume design by Irene Sharaff (opened at the Winter Garden Theater); Cabaret (1968-69) based on I Am a Camera by John Van Druten (which was based on stories by Christopher Isherwood), with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, and with actor Joel Grey (opened at the Broadhurst Theater; Best Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Awards); Mame (1969-70) based on a novel by Patrick Dennis (Edward Everett Tanner III), with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and costume design by Robert Mackintosh (opened at the Winter Garden Theater); Purlie (1970), with Linda Hopkins; Fiddler on the Roof (1970-72, opened at the Imperial Theater), directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins (Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography Tony Awards); Candide (revival, 1974-76), with music by Leonard Bernstein; and The Wiz (1977-79) with Andre De Shields.

Other shows here with LGBT creators and performers included The New Yorkers (1930-31), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter; Earl Carroll’s Vanities (1932), with scenic and costume design by Vincente Minnelli; Too Many Girls (1940), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois, and with actor Van Johnson (opened at the Imperial Theater); Lady in the Dark (revival, 1943), with costume design by Irene Sharaff and Kermit Love; Ballet Theater (1946), with scenic design by Oliver Smith and costume design by Irene Sharaff, and with dancers Hugh Laing, Jerome Robbins, Dick Beard, Antony Tudor, and Harold Lang; Beggar’s Holiday (1946-47), with production design by Oliver Smith; Oklahoma! (revival, 1951), with costume design by Miles White; The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954-55), with music, lyrics and libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti; Mr. Wonderful (1956-57) and Baker Street (1965), with scenic design by Oliver Smith , the former with costume design by Robert Mackintosh; Kean (1961-62), with scenic and costume design by Ed Wittstein; I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962) with Harold Lang; The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963-64), based on a play by Terence Rattigan, and with music and lyrics by Noel Coward, scenic design by Oliver Smith, and costume design by Irene Sharaff; Zizi (1964-65), with costume design by Yves Saint-Laurent; The Devils (1965-66), with scenic design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and with actor James Coco; and The Happy Time (1968) and Zorba (revival, 1983-84), with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the former with costume design by Freddy Wittop, and with actor Michael Rupert.

The historic front façade of the Broadway Theater was covered in 1991, but the large historic theater interior survives.

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