Opened in 1904, the Liberty Theater staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Julian Eltinge, Clyde Fitch, Oscar Wilde, Cole Porter, W. Somerset Maugham, Lynn Fontanne, and Laurette Taylor, among others.
From 1933 to the mid-1980s, the venue served as a movie theater and, in 2000, the building became part of the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and was later part of the Ripley’s Odditorium museum.
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The Liberty Theater opened in 1904. Productions here by LGBT creators and with LGBT performers included:
- The Girl Who Has Everything (1906-07) by and staged by Clyde Fitch
- The Fascinating Widow (1911), with female impersonator Julian Eltinge in one of his most famous shows
- Lady Windermere’s Fan (revival, 1914) by Oscar Wilde (opened at the Hudson Theater)
- Hitchy-Koo (1917), with costume design by Robert Locher and others (opened at the Cohan and Harris Theater)
- The Wooing of Eve (1917), with actors Lynn Fontanne and Laurette Taylor
- Hitchy-Koo (1919), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter
- Caesar’s Wife (1918-20) by W. Somerset Maugham
- The Half Moon (1920), with actor Edna May Oliver
- The Magic Ring (1923), with scenic design by Adrian
- Twinkle, Twinkle (1926-27), with actor Ona Munson
- Lady Do (1927), with female impersonator Karyl Norman (George Francis Peduzzi), and with costume design by Norman and Ellis Porter
- Blackberries of 1932 (1932), with Black performers Georgette Harvey, Musa Williams, and Jackie Mabley
In 1933, the Liberty was converted to a movie theater, which it remained until the mid-1980s. In the 1990s, a Hilton Hotel was erected above the theater. In 2000, the building became part of the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and was later part of the Ripley’s Odditorium museum. Part of the main entrance on West 42nd Street is visible, as is the auditorium façade on West 41st Street, and part of the auditorium is intact.
Entry by Jay Shockley, project director (December 2022).
NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.
- Architect or Builder: Herts & Tallant
- Year Built: 1904
Internet Broadway Database.
“Liberty Theatre,” Wikipedia (accessed December 8, 2022), bit.ly/3FLsgSf.
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