Opened in 1913, the Longacre Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Edith Head, Cyril Ritchard, Lorraine Hansberry, John Lee Beatty, Lanford Wilson, and Vincent Price, among others.
The Terrence McNally play The Ritz (1975-76) was set in a Manhattan gay bathhouse that was loosely modeled after the Continental Baths on the Upper West Side.
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There have been three big LGBT-associated hits at the Longacre Theater: Tea and Sympathy (1955, opened at the Barrymore Theater), with a subtle gay theme; Cactus Flower (1968; opened at the Royale Theater), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1978-79), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, lighting design by Pat Collins, and with actors Nell Carter (Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Award) and André De Shields.
Productions by LGBT creators here included Festival (1955), with scenic and lighting design by Robert O’Hearn; Fair Game (1957-58), with costume design by Robert Mackintosh; The Pleasure of His Company (1958-59), with costume design by Edith Head, and with actor Cyril Ritchard; The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (1964) by Lorraine Hansberry, which featured a gay male character, and with scenic design by William Ritman; Les Blancs (1970), also by Lorraine Hansberry (her final work); The Ritz (1975-76) by Terrence McNally, set in a Manhattan gay bathhouse that was loosely modeled after the Continental Baths; Faith Healer (1979), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; Angels Fall (1983) by Lanford Wilson, directed by Marshall W. Mason, with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; Passion (1983), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; Cuba & His Teddy Bear (1986), with scenic design by Donald Eastman; Precious Sons (1986) by George Furth, with actor Anthony Rapp; and Golden Child (1998) and Taller Than a Dwarf (2000), with costume design by Martin Pakledinaz, the former with scenic design by Tony Straiges. The Belle of Amherst (1976) was based on the life of Emily Dickinson.
LGBT performers at the Longacre have included John L. Arthur in Maria Rosa (1914); Archie Leach (who later changed his name to Cary Grant) in Nikki (1931), Sanford Meisner in Paradise Lost (1935-36), Alla Nazimova in Hedda Gabler (revival, 1936), Vincent Price in The Lady Has a Heart (1937), Georgette Harvey in Morning Star (1940), Earl McDonald in Three’s a Family (1943-44), James Coco in Everybody Loves Opal (1961), Sandy Dennis in Daphne in Cottage D (1967), John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in No Man’s Land (1976), and Peter Frechette in Any Given Day (1993).
- Architect or Builder: Henry B. Herts
- Year Built: 1912-13
“The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.
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.
Internet Broadway Database.v
Longacre Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).