Broadway Marquees #2 – Vivian Beaumont, Belasco, Booth & Broadhurst Theatres

After this last visit to New York City a friend and I were talking about what Broadway theatres we have been to. It turns out that I’ve been to 32 out of the 40 theatres on Broadway. This Broadway Marquee series will go through each Broadway theatre (alphabetically) four at a time.

Ever since my first trip to New York City in June 2000, I have been taking pictures of various Broadway marquees. I will try to include all of the pictures I have and list the shows I’ve seen at that particular theatre.

Broadway Marquees #1 – Ambassador, American Airlines, Brooks Atkinson & Ethel Barrymore Theatres

VIVIAN BEAUMONT THEATRE – A FREE MAN OF COLOR

Unfortunately, I do not have a current picture of the “A Free Man of Color’s” marquee. (Anyone want to take one for me?)


Theatre Info:
The Vivian Beaumont differs from traditional Broadway theaters because of its amphitheater configuration and thrust stage. With 1,080 seats, it is considered a fairly large theater for dramatic plays and a medium-size theater for musicals. It is New York City’s only Broadway-class theater (thus making its productions eligible for Tony Awards) that is not located in the theater district near Times Square.

1,080 seats

List of recent notable shows: (bold are shows I’ve seen)

The Broadway Critic’s History:
My first introduction to this theatre, is when I saw A Light in the Piazza on a Saturday afternoon in May 2005. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I had to check it out to see what all of the buzz was about. I left the theatre almost breathless — what a beautiful production. In March 2008, I took a group of 30 students to see the Tony winning revival of South Pacific. I sat on the back row, once again, breathless. It was a stunning production.

My students walked out saying, “What’s the big deal of those two falling in love?” My, what a different time we live in now! I had to explain to them that a mixed racial relationship was looked upon very negatively (and is still in some parts of the country). Being from California, my students were so surprised by this. It’s been 51 years since it was originally on Broadway and yet it’s message was still applicable today. I fell in love with a golden age musical.

If I could go back into time, I would love to have seen Parade by Jason Robert Brown. Another show that battles race and stereotypes.

This wasn’t the marquee of South Pacific, but the signage in Times Square in March 2009

BELASCO THEATRE – WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

Photos taken October 2010

Theatre Info:
David Belasco opened the Stuyvesant in October 1907, having already bequeathed his name on his 42nd St playhouse, now the New Victory. When he relinquished the 42nd St theatre in 1910, he immediately renamed the Stuyvesant as the Belasco. He provided himself with a duplex apartment above the theatre that had the décor of a Gothic church, and housed much of his theatrical memorabilia. Following his death, the theatre was rumored to be haunted by his ghost, until it was banished by the risqué production, Oh Calcutta!. The theatre came under Shubert ownership in 1948.

List of most notable recent shows: (bold are shows I’ve seen)

The Broadway Critic’s History:
I only visited the Belasco Theatre very recently when I saw the first (already historical) preview of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I had the worst seats in the house. I hope to revisit this show in January to compare and contrast the differences between their first run and months later.

BOOTH THEATRE – NEXT TO NORMAL

Photo was taken October 2010

Theatre Info:
Architect Henry B. Herts designed the Booth and its companion Shubert Theatre as a back-to-back pair sharing a Venetian Renaissance-style façade. Named in honor of famed 19th-century American actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, the theater’s 783-seat auditorium was intended to provide an intimate setting for dramatic and comedy plays. It opened on October 16, 1913 with Arnold Bennett’s play The Great Adventure.

783 seats

List of most notable recent shows: (bold are shows I’ve seen)

The Broadway Critic’s History:
I’ve only seen the recent Tony Award winning and Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal, originally starring Tony Award winner Alice Ripley and Tony nominees J. Robert Spencer and Jennifer Damiano. I’ve seen it five times though. Once in previews back in March 2009, and then I saw it twice in July 2009, and also once in January 2010. During my last trip to New York City (at the beginning of October 2010) I saw the replacement cast perform. The new casts consists of Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley, and I was pleasantly surprised by their deeply emotional performances. Each time I’ve seen Next to Normal I’m fascinated by how powerful a show it is — it’s really become one of my favorite musicals of all time.

Photo taken April 2009

BROADHURST THEATRE – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Photo taken October 2010

Theatre Info:
It was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, a well-known theatre designer who had been working directly with the Shubert brothers; the Broadhurst opened 27 September 1917. Built back-to-back with the Plymouth, it was meant to resemble the style of the neighboring Shubert and Booth theaters designed by Henry B. Herts, using less expensive brick and terra cotta materials on the discreetly neoclassical facades. Like all of Krapp’s work during this period, it features minimal ornamentation, a single balcony, wide space, and excellent sightlines.

1186 seats

List of recent notable shows: (bold are shows I’ve seen)

The Broadway Critic’s History:

I’ve only seen plays at the Broadhurst Theatre. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen three plays here. Considering that I usually am more fond of musicals, it’s a surprise that I’ve seen three plays in one place on Broadway. It started with the London transfer of The History Boys. It was on a whim that I saw this show (basically a friend offered me tickets to come with her) and I had no idea what it was about. Boy, was I in for a ride of my life. It was a very moving production.

In October 2008, I saw Daniel Radcliffe’s Broadway debut in Equus. Again, I walked into the theatre not knowing that much about the production. I found the show a bit dull and hard to follow because of the long, drawn-out monologues. I think it only sold because, let’s face it, everyone wanted to see Harry Potter naked. The last show I saw there was the stark production of Hamlet starring Jude Law. I saw it on a Thursday afternoon preview after a long red-eye to New York City. Big mistake. I was so tired I could barely follow what was happening on stage. Three hours later, I re-emerged and had no idea what I had just seen.

This photo is from Flickr user: folkyboy

Photo taken on October 16, 2008

Photo taken on October 9th, 2009

What shows have you seen at these theatres? Tell us your favorites and your not-so-favorites!

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4 thoughts on “Broadway Marquees #2 – Vivian Beaumont, Belasco, Booth & Broadhurst Theatres

  1. The Beaumont was the second Broadway theater I ever entered, and is tied for the most visits (it would win if I counted repeat visits to the same show). I’ve seen: Anything Goes, Marie Christine, Contact, The Light in the Piazza (twice), South Pacific.

    At the Belasco, I’ve seen: Follies, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Journey’s End, and Passing Strange.

    At the Booth: Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, Next to Normal

    At the Broadhurst: Into the Woods, The History Boys

      1. I thought Marie Christine had flashes of brilliance, but parts that were a muddled mess. I saw it late in previews, but they were still making changes so I can’t judge the final product. Much of the score is haunting and beautiful, but it’s not an easy listen. LaChiusa seems to delight in making things difficult. Its hard for me to be objective about Audra, because I think she’s always brilliant. She was totally committed to the part, but the show never totally came together.

        I haven’t listened to that CD in ages. I might have to pull it out again…

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