overview

Opened in 1918, the Broadhurst Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including the play The Green Hat (1925-26), staged by Guthrie McClintic, starring Katharine Cornell, and featuring a closeted gay character.

A sampling of other LGBT names associated with the Broadhurst include Vincent Price, Beatrice Lillie, Oliver Smith, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Eva La Gallienne, and Barbara Stanwyck.

Header Photo

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

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History

One fairly successful gay-themed play appeared at the Broadhurst Theater prior to the Wales Padlock Law (1927), which forbade the depiction of “sex perversion” on stage. Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat (1925-26), staged by Guthrie McClintic, with actor Katharine Cornell, featured a closeted gay character. The Broadhurst over the decades has had a large number of hit plays with LGBT associations: Victoria Regina (1935-37), with Vincent Price; Pal Joey (revival, 1952-53), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, scenic design by Oliver Smith, and costume design by Miles White, and with actor Harold Lang; Anniversary Waltz (1954), with costume design by Robert Mackintosh; Auntie Mame (1956-58), based on a novel by Patrick Dennis (Edward Everett Tanner III), with production design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Beatrice Lillie as a replacement in the lead role (1958) and Cris Alexander; 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); Half a Sixpence (1965-66), with scenic and costume design by Loudon Sainthill, and with actor Grover Dale; Luv (1966), with scenic design by Oliver Smith (opened at Booth Theater); Cabaret (1966-67; Best Musical Tony Award), 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 (Best Composer and Lyricist Tony Award), and with actor Joel Grey (Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Award); You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running (1968), with scenic design by Ed Wittstein, and with actor George Grizzard (opened at the Ambassador Theater); Play It Again, Sam (1969-70), with scenic design by William Ritman; The Sunshine Boys (1972-73) and Sly Fox (1976-78), with costume design by Albert Wolsky; Godspell (1976) by John-Michael Tebelak; Amadeus (1980-83; Best Play Tony Award) by Peter Shaffer, with actor Ian McKellan (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award); The Tap Dance Kid (1983-84), with music by Henry Krieger, and costume design by William Ivey Long; Rumors (1988-89), with scenic design by Tony Straiges; and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993-95) by Terrence McNally, based on the novel by Manuel Puig, with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score Tony Awards) , and costume design by Florence Klotz (Best Costume Design Tony Award).

Productions by LGBT creators here also included 39 East (1919) by Rachel Crothers; Topics of 1923 (1923-24), with costume design by Erte; America’s Sweetheart (1931), directed by Monty Woolley, with lyrics by Lorenz Hart; Streets of Paris (1939-40) and Boys and Girls Together (1940-41), with costume design by Irene Sharaff; Old Acquaintance (1941) by John Van Druten (opened at Morosco Theater); Early to Bed (1943-44), with costume design by Miles White; Lend Me An Ear (1949), with scenic, costume and lighting design by Raoul Pene Du Bois (opened at the National Theater); Along Fifth Avenue (1949), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; Romeo and Juliet (revival, 1951), with scenic and costume design by Oliver Messel; Sail Away (1961-62), with book, music, and lyrics by Noel Coward, scenic and costume design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Grover Dale; Bravo Giovanni (1962), with costume design by Ed Wittstein; 110 in the Shade (1963-64), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Will Geer; Weekend (1968) by Gore Vidal, with scenic design by Oliver Smith; Private Lives (revival, 1970) by Noel Coward, with actor Brian Bedford (opened at the Billy Rose Theater); Four on a Garden (1971) and The Heiress (revival, 1976), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; 70, Girls, 70 (1971) by Fred Ebb and Norman L. Martin, and with music and lyrics by John Kander and Ebb; Twigs (1971-72) by George Furth; Long Day’s Journey Into Night (revival, 1986), with scenic design by Tony Straiges; Private Lives (revival, 1992) by Noel Coward, with costume design by William Ivey Long; Once Upon a Mattress (revival, 1996-97) and Proposals (1997-98), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; and The Judas Kiss (1998), about the life of Oscar Wilde, with scenic and costume design by Bob Crowley.

LGBT performers at the Broadhurst included Eva La Gallienne in Lord and Lady Algy (revival, 1917), L’Aiglon (1934), and Uncle Harry (1942); Spring Byington in Beggar on Horseback (1924) and The Merchant of Venice (revival, 1928); Florence Mills in the musical revue Dixie to Broadway (1924-25); Ona Munson in Hold Everything (1928-29); Jean Arthur in The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1932); Barbara Stanwyck in Tattle Tales (1933); Sanford Meisner in Men in White (1933-34) and Night Music (1940); Will Geer in Let Freedom Ring (1935); Sophie Tucker in High Kickers (1941-42); Harold Lang and Carleton Carpenter in Three to Make Ready (1946); Katharine Cornell in The Prescott Proposals (1953-54); Katharine Hepburn in A Matter of Gravity (1976); and Mario Cantone in The Tempest (revival, 1995).

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