overview

Opened in 1921, the Ambassador Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Mulatto by Langston Hughes and Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, for which George C. Wolfe earned Best Direction of a Musical Tony Award.

A sampling of other LGBT names associated with the Ambassador include George Cukor, William Ritman, Tom Eyen, Ethel Waters, and Anthony Rapp.

Header Photo

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

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History

The biggest theater hits with LGBT associations at the Ambassador Theater were Mulatto (1936) by Langston Hughes (opened at the Vanderbilt Theater); Me and Bessie (1975-76) with Linda Hopkins as Bessie Smith; You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running (1967-68), with scenic design by Ed Wittstein, and with actor George Grizzard; Godspell (1977) by John-Michael Tebelak (opened at the Broadhurst Theater); Eubie! (1978-79) with Maurice Hines; and Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk (1996-99), conceived by and directed by George C. Wolfe (Best Direction of a Musical Tony Award).

Other productions by LGBT creators here included The Great Gatsby (1926) directed by George Cukor; A Passage to India (1962) based on the book by E.M. Forster, with scenic and costume design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and with actor James Coco; Absence of a Cello (1964-65), with scenic and lighting design by William Ritman; We Bombed in New Haven (1968), with scenic design by William Ritman; Celebration (1969), with scenic, costume, and lighting design by Ed Wittstein; Your Arms Too Short to Box with God (revival, 1980), with music and lyrics by Alex Bradford; Dreamgirls (revival, 1987) by Tom Eyen, with music by Henry Krieger; Ain’t Misbehavin’ (revival, 1988-89), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, and with actors Nell Carter and Andre De Shields; and The Circle (revival, 1989-90) by W. Somerset Maugham, with scenic design by Desmond Heeley.

LGBT performers here have included Walter Pigeon in Night of January (1935-36), Jerome Robbins in The Straw Hat Revue (1939), Ethel Waters in Laugh Time (1943, opened at the Shubert Theater); Tyrone Power in Back to Methuselah (1958), Judith Anderson in Comes a Day (1958), and Anthony Rapp and B.D. Wong in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999).

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