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7 of Broadway’s Most Beautiful Theaters

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


These Broadway theaters are as spectacular as the shows they house

When seeing a Broadway show, what is playing on the stage is usually our reason for the trip. What we forget, however, is that the theaters that house these amazing productions have rich histories and dazzling aesthetics that justify our visits in their own right. Every Broadway theater is special in its own way, each a visual gem and a house of history. Today we take a look at some of these beautiful theaters and at what makes them special.

The gilded interior of Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, currently home to the smash hit ‘Hamilton’ (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)

The gilded interior of Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, currently home to the smash hit ‘Hamilton’ (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)

The Broadhurst Theatre
The Broadhurst Theatre is one of Broadway’s medium-sized theatres, often home to both plays and musicals (most recently, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune). The theater first opened its doors in 1917, and the inside features the most elegantly simple details of Doric columns, as well as Greek-style cornices and friezes that are reminiscent to the patterns found on edges of Wedgewood china. These, juxtaposed against the startling blue walls of the theatre, make it a strikingly memorable venue.

The Winter Garden Theatre
The haunting home of Broadway’s current hit Beetlejuice, the building that houses the Winter Garden Theatre was initially built in 1896 to be the American Horse Exchange. In 1911, the Shuberts leased the structure and had it redesigned as a theatre. William Albert Swasey was the architect in charge of the building’s evolution toward a theatrical venue, and by the 1920s, the theater had been designed to have the feeling of an indoor garden, with trees and leaves worked into the décor. The Winter Garden has enjoyed several renovations over the years, eventually leading it back to the glory of its heyday.

The Music Box Theatre
The Music Box Theatre came to be when theatrical producer Sam Harris went looking for a venue to house a new Irving Berlin revue. In 1920, Berlin gave him The Music Box Revue, (which would ultimately premiere in 1921) and the theater was built and named for its first tenant. It was crafted in the neo-Georgian style of architecture and sought to emulate, both inside and out, a dignified county manse. With its stately columns built into the theater’s façade, architect Charles Howard Crane achieved this in spades. The Music Box Theatre is the current home of the musical sensation Dear Evan Hansen.

The Hudson Theatre
New York’s Hudson Theatre first opened its doors in 1903, and it has been used for a multitude of purposes over the last century, including as a radio and television studio and a nightclub. After years as a movie theater and office space, the Hudson officially re-opened as a legitimate theater venue in 2017. Refurbished for the occasion, the Hudson Theatre shimmers with a gold and bronze color scheme, mahogany wood and Tiffany glass domes, all adding up to exude an inviting warmth. The Hudson is the current home for Sea Wall/A Life, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge.

The Belasco Theatre
Soon to be the home of the Broadway-bound musical Girl From North Country, The Belasco Theatre is actually the second venue to have Mr. Belasco’s name attached (the first is now the site of the New Victory Theatre on 42nd Street). Regardless, theater impresario David Belasco liked things to be a certain way, often tending toward a pristine, puritanical look in his personal tastes (including his dress). The theater’s neo-Georgian architecture worked well within Belasco’s passion for the “Little Theatre Movement,” providing a simple, old world charm and austerity that facilitated an intimacy between the audience and the stage, while still hinting at a grandeur befitting of Belasco’s stature.

The New Amsterdam Theatre
Disney lovingly restored the New Amsterdam Theatre as the original home for the long-running The Lion King. The venue currently houses the hit stage adaptation of the Disney animated musical Aladdin. Building began on the theater in 1902, and for many years it was the home of The Ziegfeld Follies. The titular impresario’s office was in the building, which featured an art nouveau interior. Ultimately, it would far into disrepair, until Disney resurrected the space from a crumbling ruin. Now it is an ornate recreation of the Art Nouveau architecture of its past glory, its splendor heightened by detailed wall murals and “Faberge egg” chandeliers.

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre
The Al Hirschfeld Theatre (formerly known as the Martin Beck Theatre), has always been a classy, old-style theater house. What makes it especially imperative to visit this theater soon is to witness how Derek McLane’s glorious set design for Moulin Rouge!, rich with velvety reds, scarlet windmills and twinkling lights, overflows into the theater itself. The theater’s Moorish and Byzantine architectural styles seem to be welcoming McLane’s work, working in tandem to make the Al Hirschfeld Theatre one of the most visually stunning places one can visit in the Big Apple. 

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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