Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Venue: Shubert Theatre Lands 'Memphis' Musical

The Shubert Theatre in New York City holds a special place in the Broadway theatre scene. The venue is the namesake theatre for the Shubert Organization, the owner of the largest number of Broadway theaters at seventeen and was home for fifteen years to "A Chorus Line" (1975) the quintessential show about the New York stage.

The theatre opened in 1913 and also hosted the original productions of "Pal Joey" (1941), "Kiss Me Kate" (1948), "Promises, Promises" (1968) and "A Little Night Music" (1973). A successful reworking of Gershwin's "Girl Crazy" called "Crazy For You" (1991) ran for nearly four years here. More recently the venue has been home to "Gypsy" (2003) starring Bernadette Peters and "Spamalot" (2005). The current tenant is "Memphis" (2009). Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut in "I Can Get It For You Wholesale" (1962) at the Shubert. A musical version of the Tom Hanks comedy "Big" failed at the theatre in 1996 playing only 193 performances. Read "Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical" by Barbara Isenberg which details the difficulty of producing a modern musical.

The theatre opens onto One Shubert Alley, a hangout for the theatre crowd and serves as a pedestrian link between 44th and 45th Streets. The walls of the Shubert and the Booth Theatre along the alley is notable for the display of posters for current Broadway productions. Offices of the theatre is home to the Shubert Organization's executive offices.

The theatre is located at 225 West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue in NYC. The seating capacity is 1,460 on three levels. Always keep in mind that these older Broadway houses lack any public lobby space. This often leads to a line of theatergoers waiting to enter the theatre. But One Shubert Alley offers lots of breathing space during the intermission.


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