overview

Opened in 1903, the Lyceum Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Oliver Smith, Clyde Fitch, Katharine Cornell, Billy Barnes, Eva Le Gallienne, Thornton Wilder, Elsie de Wolfe, and Alan Bates, among others.

The two biggest hits at the Lyceum were The Gold Diggers (1919-21), with Lilyan Tashman, and Born Yesterday (1946-47), with Judy Holliday.

Header Photo

Credit: Sarah Sargent/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2019.

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History

In the long history of LGBT-associated productions at the Lyceum Theater, the two biggest hits were The Gold Diggers (1919-21), with Lilyan Tashman, and Born Yesterday (1946-48), with Judy Holliday. Other hits here included Look Back in Anger (1957-58) with Alan Bates; A Taste of Honey (1960-61), with production design by Oliver Smith; Your Arms Too Short to Box with God (1976-77), with music and lyrics by Alex Bradford; and Morning’s at Seven (revival, 1980-81), with scenic design by William Ritman.

Plays by LGBT creators at the Lyceum have included Granny (1904) and The Truth (1907, opened at the Criterion Theater) by Clyde Fitch; Penelope (1909-10), Mrs. Dot (1910), and The Land of Promise (1913-14) by W. Somerset Maugham; The Importance of Being Earnest (revival, 1910) by Oscar Wilde; Little Miss Bluebeard (1923-24), with costume design by Travis Banton and others; The Way Things Happen (1924), staged by Guthrie McClintic, with actor Katharine Cornell; A Hundred Years Old (1929), staged by James Whale; Bitter Oleander (1935) by Federico Garcia Lorca; I Want a Policeman (1936) by Rufus King and Milton Lazarus; The Gambler (1952), with costume design by Robert Mackintosh; Lullaby (1954) by Don Appell; Billy Barnes Revue (1959), with music and lyrics by Billy Barnes (opened at the John Golden Theater); Goodbye, Charlie (1959-60), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; The Importance of Being Oscar (1961), a one-man show based on the works of Oscar Wilde, written and performed by Michael MacLiammoir; Nobody Loves an Albatross (1963-64), with costume design by Florence Klotz; Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1965) by Joe Orton, with scenic design by William Ritman; The Show Off (revival, 1967-68) by George Kelly; Exit the King (1968), with scenic design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and with actors Eva Le Gallienne and Richard Easton; Borstal Boy (1970) based on the autobiographical book by Brendan Behan (Best Play Tony Award); The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1971), with costume design by Albert Wolsky; Out Cry (1973) by Tennessee Williams; Zalman or The Madness of God (1976), with scenic design by William Ritman; As Is (1985-86) by William M. Hoffman, one of the first plays about AIDS, and with actor Jonathan Hadary; Our Town (revival, 1988-89) by Thornton Wilder; The Government Inspector (1994), with costume design by Lewis Brown; and Night Must Fall (revival, 1999) by Emlyn Williams.

LGBT performers at the Lyceum have included Elsie De Wolfe (the future interior designer) in The Other Girl (1904, opened at the Criterion Theater); Laurette Taylor in Seven Sisters (1911); Alla Nazimova and Franklin Pangborn in The Marionettes (1911-12); Eugene O’Brien in Her Husband’s Wife (1917); Judith Anderson in Anna (1928); Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton in Payment Deferred (1931); Maurice Evans in St. Helena (1936); Walter Pidgeon and George Grizzard in The Happiest Millionaire (1956-57); Alan Bates in The Caretaker (1961-62); Brian Bedford in The Cocktail Party (revival, 1968-69), The Misanthrope (revival, 1968-69), The School for Wives (revival, 1971; Best Actor in a Play Tony Award), and Timon of Athens (1993); Richard Easton in The Misanthrope (revival, 1968-69) and Hamlet (revival, 1969); John Glover in The Great God Brown (1972-73); Gary Beach in Something’s Afoot (1976); and Michael Feinstein in Michael Feinstein in Concert (1988).

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