Celebrating Theatres: The Lunt-Fontanne

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on May 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm

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Watch an engaging video about the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with story tellers Andrew Dolkart, Architectural Historian at Columbia University, Jeffery Eric Jenkins, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Historian, and composer Alan Menken. “The theatre is a living, breathing entity. There’s all these invisible artistic threads linking us to the people who came before us.” http://www.spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/lunt-fontanne

Named after the great husband-and-wife acting team Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the Lunt-Fontanne theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, and built by producer Charles Dillingham. It opened in January 1910 as The Globe in honor of Shakespeare’s London theatre. The facade of the Lunt-Fontanne features theatrical masks, a typical Beaux-Arts form. The interior is spectacular and grand, and was originally built with a retractable roof.

“The original design and construction called for the ceiling and the roof 20 feet above it to roll back to reveal starlight and keep the theatre cooler in summer.” It had other unique features, like seats being individually cooled or warmed by placing ice beneath them during warm weather or by the use of hot air events during the winter.

Located at 205 W, 46th Street, it opened as The Lunt-Fontanne Theater on May 5 1958 with a production of Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt’s ‘The Visit’ starring the Lunts. It has staged the Broadway debut of notable productions like The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.

Images thanks to Andreas Praefcke and David Zorning.

Theatre Historical Society of America. Learn more about THS and the Theatre Historical Society Architectural Archive on our website at www.historictheatres.org

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Beauty and The Beast was actually moved there from the Palace. It didn’t premiere there.

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