The two biggest LGBT-associated hits at the National Theater were The Little Foxes (1939-40) with Tallulah Bankhead, and The Corn is Green (1940-41) by Emlyn Williams. Other LGBT-associated productions here included Africana (1927, opened at Daly’s 63rd Street Theater) with Ethel Waters; Tonight at 8:30 (1936 and 1948), written and staged by Noel Coward, with Coward; Macbeth (revival, 1941-42) with Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson; The Cherry Orchard (revival, 1944) with Eva Le Gallienne; Embezzled Heaven (1944-45) with Sanford Meisner; The Day Before Spring (1945-46), with costume design by Miles White; Medea (revival, 1947) with Judith Anderson (Best Actress in a Play Tony Award) and John Gielgud; Crime and Punishment (revival, 1947-48) with John Gielgud; Lend Me An Ear (1948-49), with scenic, costume and lighting design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; The Constant Wife (revival, 1951-52) by W. Somerset Maugham, staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actor Katharine Cornell; Camino Real (1953) by Tennessee Williams, with actor Hurd Hatfield; Mrs. Patterson (1954-55), with scenic and costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; and The Square Root of Wonderful (1957) by Carson McCullers.
Billy Rose Theater
In 1959, the theater was renamed the Billy Rose Theater. The biggest LGBT-associated hit here was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962-64) by Edward Albee (Best Play Tony Award), with production design by William Ritman, and with actor George Grizzard. Other LGBT-associated productions at the Billy Rose included Heartbreak House (revival, 1959-60), with costume design by Freddy Wittop, and with actor Maurice Evans; Dear Liar (1960), with costume design by Cecil Beaton, and with actor Katharine Cornell; A Family Affair (1962), with book, music and lyrics by James and William Goldman and John Kander, and with actor Larry Kert and dancer Tommy Abbott; Tiny Alice (1964-65) by Edward Albee, with scenic design by William Ritman, and with actor John Gielgud; The Right Honourable Gentleman (1965-66), with scenic and costume design by Loudon Sainthill, and with actor Coral Browne; Where’s Daddy? (1966) by William Inge, which included a gay character; The Rose Tattoo (revival, 1966) by Tennessee Williams; Private Lives (revival, 1969-70) by Noel Coward, and with actor Brian Bedford; The Country Girl (revival, 1972) with George Grizzard; and Jumpers (1974) with Brian Bedford and Remak Ramsey.
The theater was renamed the Nederlander Theater in 1980. An enormous hit here was Rent (1996-2008, opened Off-Broadway at New York Theater Workshop – Best Musical Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Drama) with Anthony Rapp, about a group of friends living in the East Village during the AIDS crisis. The show is credited with bringing portrayals of LGBT characters and those living with HIV/AIDS to mainstream theater audiences. Other LGBT-associated productions included 84 Charing Cross Road (1982-83), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Joseph Maher; Amen Corner (1983), a musical based on the play by James Baldwin; Beethoven’s Tenth (1984), with George Rose; and Our Country’s Good (1991), with Peter Frechette and Cherry Jones.