overview

Opened as the Plymouth Theater in 1918, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Oliver Smith, Roberta Maxwell, Claudette Colbert, Lanford Wilson, Cynthia Nixon, Spencer Tracy, Tallulah Bankhead, Anthony Perkins, and Mary Martin, among others.

It was renamed the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in 2005.

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

History

This venue was originally known as the Plymouth Theater. The biggest hits with LGBT associations at the Plymouth were The Odd Couple (1965-66) and Plaza Suite (1968-70), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, the former winning the Best Scenic Design Tony Award; Equus (1974-76) by Peter Shaffer (Best Play Tony Award), with actors Roberta Maxwell and Anthony Perkins (in a replacement role); Godspell (1976-77, opened at the Broadhurst Theater) by John-Michael Tebelak; and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1979-81, opened at the Longacre Theater), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, lighting design by Pat Collins, and with Nell Carter (Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Award) and André De Shields. Other big hits here included Once in a Lifetime (1931, opened at the Music Box Theater) with Spring ByingtonDial “M” for Murder (1952-54) with Maurice EvansThe Marriage-Go-Round (1958-60) with Claudette ColbertBurn This (1987-88) by Lanford Wilson, directed by Marshall W. Mason, and with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; and The Heidi Chronicles (1989-90) with lighting design by Pat Collins, and with actor Cynthia Nixon.

Plays by LGBT creators at the Plymouth also included Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1921-22) and A Royal Fandango (1923) by Zoe Akins, the latter with actor Spencer TracyThe Channel Road (1929) by Alexander Woollcott and George S. Kaufman, and with actor Edmund LoweSusan and God (1937-38) by Rachel CrothersSolitaire (1942) by John Van DrutenThe Skin of Our Teeth (1942-43) by Thornton Wilder (Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and with actors Tallulah Bankhead and Montgomery CliftThe Ryan Girl (1945) by Edmund Goulding, and with actor Edmund LoweObsession (1946), with costume design by AdrianPresent Laughter (1946-47) by Noel Coward, and with actors Clifton Webb and Cris AlexanderThe Eagle Has Two Heads (1947) by Jean Cocteau, and with actor Tallulah BankheadPrivate Lives (revival, 1948-49) by Noel Coward, and with actor Tallulah BankheadThree Wishes for Jamie (1952, opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater), with costume design by Miles WhiteCaine Mutiny Court-Martial (1954-55), directed by Charles Laughton, with actor Charles NolteTiger at the Gates (1955), with scenic and costume design by Loudon Sainthill, and with actor Michael RedgraveThe Apple Cart (revival, 1956-57), with scenic and lighting design by Robert O’Hearn, and with actor Maurice EvansDylan (1964), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Alec Guinness (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award); Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (1964-65) and The Star-Spangled Girl (1966-67), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, the former with actor George Rose and the latter with actor Anthony PerkinsEverything in the Garden (1967-68) by Edward Albee, with scenic and costume design by William RitmanTwigs (1972, opened at the Broadhurst Theater) by George FurthThe Water Engine/ Mr. Happiness (1978), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (1985-86) by Jane Wagner, and with actor Lily Tomlin (Best Actress in a Play Tony Award); Passion (1994-95), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Best Musical and Best Original Score Tony Awards); and A Delicate Balance (revival, 1996) by Edward Albee (Best Revival of a Play Tony Award), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, lighting design by Pat Collins, and with actor George Grizzard (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award).

LGBT performers at the Plymouth included Alla Nazimova, the most famous interpreter of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen of her day, in productions of The Wild Duck (1918), Hedda Gabler (revival, 1918) and A Doll’s House (revival, 1918); Laurette Taylor in In a Garden (1925-26); Barbara Stanwyck in the role that established her as a star in Burlesque (1927-28); Tallulah Bankhead in Dark Victory (1934); Katharine Cornell in Lovers and Friends (1943-44); Spencer Tracy in The Rugged Path (1945-46); Mary Martin in Lute Song (1946); Musa Williams in Happy Birthday (1948); Agnes Moorehead and Charles Laughton in Don Juan in Hell (1952); Graham Chapman in Cambridge Circus (1964); Roger Rees (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award) in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1981-82); and James Coco in You Can’t Take It With You (revival, 1983).

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp
  • Year Built: 1917-18

Sources

  1. “The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.

  2. Adam Hetrick, “The Work of Broadway’s Gay and Lesbian Artistic Community Goes on Display Nov. 14 When the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery Presents ‘StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design’,” Playbill, Nov. 14, 2007.

  3. Internet Broadway Database.

  4. Plymouth Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).

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