Friday, January 28, 2011

REWIND: Gershwin Theatre Spelled by 'Wicked' - The Venue (NYC, 2009)

For as far as anyone knows, the Gerswhin Theatre will likely be hosting the mega-hit musical 'Wicked' indefinitely. Down the street who knew that 'The Phantom of the Opera' would be ensconced at the Majestic Theatre 23 years later. 'Wicked' now in its eighth year on Broadway has a challenged on its hands.

Originally opened in 1972 as the Uris as part of a new office tower and named for the building's developer, the theatre was renamed in 1983 after the composer George Gershwin and lyricist Ira Gershwin. The venue is the largest among the Broadway theatres with over 1,900 seats and is one of three modern built Broadway venues with the others being the Minskoff Theatre (housed in the Viacom building) and Marquis Theatre (built as part of the Marriott Marquis hotel). Other Broadway houses have opened after these but they either made use of the shell of a landmark theatre or were refurbished from an existing one.

Theatre entrance along the breezeway.
In terms of wrangling the night's audience, the theatre hosts some of the most generous lobby spaces and includes escalators sending audiences to the auditorium located three stories up. The Gershwin lacks a defining marquee but the theatre's entrance along the mid-block breezeway connecting 50th and 51st Streets adds more space for crowds attending a performance. The breezeway is also shared with the entrance to the Circle in the Square theatre which takes the audience to an auditorium in the basement level of the building.

A 'Wicked' map greets visitors riding the theater's escalators.
A couple of the prominent productions to premiere at the Gershwin include Sweeney Todd (1981) and Starlight Express (1987). 'Wicked' began previews at the theatre on October 8, 2003 and opened October 30 after an out-of-town tryout in San Francisco. In addition to attending 'Wicked' in 2004 some other shows I've witnessed here were revivals of 'Show Boat' (1995) and 'Candide' (1997). By the way for the week ending 1/2/11, 'Wicked' grossed $2,228,235, the highest grossing week for any show in Broadway history.

The Gershwin, located in the Paramount Building, is one of nine Nederlander theatres. All online ticketing for the venue is sold through Ticketmaster. More information at Click here for a fan site offering tips to purchase 'Wicked' tickets. Visit for more about the show.

Note: all photos taken in June 2009 during a visit to the behind the scenes tour called Wicked Behind the Emerald Curtain. Visit the previous post for info about the event.

The orchestra level bar and lobby


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