Broadway Theatre

1681 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on February 18, 2010 at 4:52 am

A few more details on CINERAMA at the Broadway.

This, of course, was a 3-strip CINERAMA location.

It had a 146 degree LOUVERED, 78 ft by 26 ft, screen!

The first CINERAMA movie, THIS IS CINERAMA, had it’s World Premiere at the Broadway on Tuesday, September 30, 1952. It ran for 35 weeks, till Thursday, June, 4 1953!

THIS IS CINERAMA then transfered to the Warner Theater, on Friday, June 5, 1953 and ran for another 88 weeks!

This means THIS IS CINERAMA had a 123 week run (THAT’S ALMOST 2 YEARS AND 5 MONTHS!), the longest running movie engagement in the history on New York City!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS IS CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas, September 30, 1952

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on February 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts installed a pipe organ in the Broadway/Colony Theater in 1924. It was Opus 485, a 4 Manual/32 Rank with 2,153 pipes. I know it was played by George Brock in 1927 and that’s the last thing I can find out about the organ. Anyone know what happened to this organ after that?

Tinseltoes on December 22, 2009 at 6:22 am

On Christmas Day, the theatre will celebrate the 85th anniversary of its grand opening by B.S. Moss on 12/25/24 as the Colony. Details of the Colony’s first program can be found in the introduction.

squirestone on September 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Oops, forgot to mention a date: c 1926

squirestone on September 7, 2009 at 9:50 pm

My grandmother “performed” as a lingerie model/dancer? in a/the Parisian Lingerie Revue. The first production was presented before the movie “Devil’s Island” with Pauline Frederick, and the second edition of the revue played before a production of “Oh Baby”, a play with Graham McNamee, a few weeks later. I’m writing about her experiences on Broadway and am looking for more info on this time period and these particular performances. If anyone’s interested, I can post playbill and ads for these shows.

ERD on March 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Plenty of showmanship and style in that program. Makes you want to attend that theatre. I appreciate S. Porridge letting us see it.

sporridge on November 6, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Link to a 1927 program from the Colony:

View link

Visited the Broadway in 2003 to see Baz Luhrmann’s “La Boheme” — thanks to all for filling in the history and various aliases.

edblank on May 28, 2008 at 6:30 am

Thanks, Warren. Never saw that marquee before. I love the old ones, with the individually-placed letters. I was always intrigued when moviehouses outside New York used the names of actors who weren’t necessarily the top-billed ones, violating the contractual billing, so to speak, to favor a hometown actor, a singer who was at a local nightclub, etc.
But I did like the Broadway Theatre’s script-like marquee from the 1980s and 1990s.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 28, 2008 at 6:02 am

Unless a marquee has been officially landmarked, there’s nothing to prevent a theatre from replacing it with a new and/or different one. Nearly all the Broadway cinemas and “legit” houses went through marquee changes over the years. The Capitol, for example, had at least four or five…Here’s a new link to photo described above on 4/4/08:
View link

edblank on May 27, 2008 at 6:37 pm

As a Broadway theater during the past few decades, the Broadway had one of the best marquees in Manhattan. No more. Does the city prevent theaters from maintaining old-style marquees or is the theater owners who keep shrinking them or replacing them with nondescipt new marquees?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 4, 2008 at 7:41 am

The Broadway Theatre can be seen in the background of this 1947 photo, with an electrified “Charles Chaplin” on the marquee. The Broadway was presenting the world premiere engagement of his controversial “Monsieur Verdoux.” The marquee in the foreground belongs to the “legit” Hammerstein’s Theatre, which has served as a CBS broadcasting studio for most of its existence and is currently home (as The Ed Sullivan Theater) to David Letterman’s late-night program:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 18, 2008 at 9:34 am

The opening paragraph of the introduction needs correcting. B.S. Moss built the Colony Theatre primarily for movies, with stage facilities for vaudeville if required. The Colony first opened on December 25, 1924 with “The Thief of Bagdad” (Douglas Fairbanks), with a concert-sized orchestra conducted by Edwin Franko Goldman providing all the music. As time passed, the Colony added “live” prologues to the programs and eventually revues to meet the compettion of new rivals like the Paramount (1926) and Roxy (1927). Due to its smaller size, the Colony couldn’t afford to spend as much money on its stage presentations, which were rather skimpy by comparison. But patrons expected them as part of the package, and the policy continued until December, 1930, when Moss changed the Colony’s name to Broadway and turned the theatre “legitimate.” The first booking was a musical comedy, “The New Yorkers,” which ran only twenty weeks depsite comedics by Jimmy Durante and score by Cole Porter (including “Love For Sale”).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 18, 2008 at 8:39 am

I dislike Nana Mouskouri so intensely that I must have erased that Broadway Theatre booking from my memory. But I would guess that her show didn’t run more than a week at the Broadway, which only strengthens my case. That makes only three “concert” engagements (and all in a matter of days) over a space of 31 years…The Colony, which was re-named the Broadway in 1930, also had no substantial history with a film/stage policy in that decade. The simultaneous arrival of “talkies” and the economic Depression put an end to that. Even better positioned rivals faltered. The Paramount dropped stage shows for nearly a year, and the Capitol for eight years. The Roxy actually closed its doors for a brief period. During the 1930s, the Broadway Theatre was probably shuttered more often than open. B.S. Moss couldn’t get enough “A” movies or afford to hire “names” for stage shows. He sometimes leased the Broadway to others for stage plays, revues, and foreign movies. Moss pretty much gave up on the Broadway in 1936, when he opened the New Criterion, which was solely a cinema and much better situated in the heart of Times Square. Even then, Moss had a tough time getting product for the Criterion, which finally caused him, in 1938, to make a deal with the Loew’s circuit to take over the bookings and management of the theatre.

AlAlvarez on February 17, 2008 at 8:30 am

Nana Mouskouri 1977

You forgot Nana Mouskouri in 1977 or credit to IBDB.COM.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 17, 2008 at 7:51 am

“[Elvis] Costello Sings Again,” which was produced by Ron Delsener, was a special presentation that gave only five performances at the Broadway Theatre in October, 1986. Nearly sixteen years later, in July, 2002, “Robin Williams: Live on Broadway,” gave three performances, which were produced by HBO and used as the basis for a TV special. I don’t think that those two isolated cases, which amounted to eight nights in the past twenty-two years, justify “concerts” being included in the “function.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 16, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Robin Williams and Elvis Costello did not put on “stage shows.” They were “live” concerts. If management will not accept “playhouse,” I could agree to “live theater,” but not “stage shows” for the current “function” of the Broadway Theatre.

AlAlvarez on February 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

The Broadway/Colony showcased Vaudeville in the thirties and has presented some non-play stage shows since, such as Robin William and Elvis Costello performing live.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 16, 2008 at 1:21 pm

The “function” in the introduction needs to be changed. “Stage shows” ended here in the 1920s, when they supported movies at the Colony. For many decades, the Broadway has been a “playhouse,” presenting stage PLAYS (not “shows”). Most of the plays have been musicals, due to the Broadway’s large seating capacity.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

CAUTION: The following might be considered “useless drivel” and could cause permanent damage to your mental health.

In September, 1928, the Colony had a brief closure for installation of new equipment for sound movies. The theatre re-opened on October 1st with Universal’s “Lonesome,” which was 100% sound, including background music, sound effects, and sprinklings of spoken dialogue. Ben Bernie & His Orchestra topped the Colony’s stage revue.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 22, 2007 at 8:55 am

In November, 1937, the Broadway Cine Roma became a cinema in name only during a special engagement of a two-a-day Italian vaudeville show toplined by Carlo Buti, Italy’s most popular singer and its equivalent of Bing Crosby, in his American debut. Variety reported Buti’s salary as $1,000 per week, and claimed that the entire package, including supporting acts and orchestra, was costing Cine Roma $5,000 per week. “At a $1.25 top, the Cine Roma is grabbing stout biz,” claimed Variety, due to “Buti’s vast fandom in Italy, which has been communicated to the Italian-Americans here through phonograph platters. The 1,900-seat house has been playing to near capacity each performance. After winding up a four-week stand here, the show will make a tour of one-nighters through New England.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 22, 2007 at 8:32 am

On February 25th, 1937, The New York Times reported that the Broadway Theatre had been taken under long-term lease by the Nuvo Mondo Motion Picture Corporation for Italian films, “absent from Broadway [the district] since the closing last summer of the Cinema Roma, which since has become a burlesque house.” The Broadway Theatre was due to open on February 27th with “Loyalty of Love,” starring Marta Abba. The NYT also claimed that “The house will supplement its screen fare with stage presentations, the first of which will be entitled ‘A Night in Rome.’”…I don’t know how long the stage presentation policy lasted, but I suspect not past opening week. I found the first one reviewed in Variety, but none thereafter.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 21, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Curiously, a theatre once called Cine Roma later introduced Cinerama to NYC!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm

“Also known as” above the name in the introduction should be Cine Roma. As Cine Roma, the Broadway was a showcase for Italian imports for more than two years, from early 1937 until nearly the end of 1939. Advertising and publicity were almost entirely targeted at Greater New York’s very large Italian-American community, which had its own newspapers and radio stations. That’s probably why that period in the Broadway’s history has been barely documented.