New Amsterdam Theatre

214 West 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 8, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Had to reorganize my photobucket account so the link to the photo I posted above has changed. A couple of recent night shots of the New Amsterdam marquee can now be found here.

RobertR
RobertR on April 26, 2006 at 2:54 pm

Look at this great ad for the neighborhood run of “Glenn Miller Story”. I wonder if the first show was at 5:30 pm on the opening day at all the theatres or it was just a catch line.
View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 27, 2006 at 11:35 am

Actually, I loved the strip during those days! I’ve always had mixed feelings about the redevelopment of 42nd Street. Here’s a quote from that page:

“Mid-block off 42nd Street are nine(9) historic theaters. These turn-of-the-century architectural treasures are being restored to their original grandeur. Repertory, non-profit and legitimate theatre productions will be presented. Disney is a major theater player in the area.”

If only that had been the case. Only the New Amsterdam, Victory and Selwyn theaters were restored to their “original granduer” in the end. The Lyric and Apollo were dismantled with certain elements incorporated into the new now-named Hilton Theater, the Times Square is going retail, the Liberty is sitting there waiting for lord knows what, the Empire is a multiplex lobby, the Rialto, Harris and Anco have been pounded to dust. Hmmm. That’s 10 theaters. I assume they didn’t mean to include the Rialto in the counting. Still, only 3 of the 9 were eventually restored to original purposes.

I guess the more I think about it, the more I understand that there is a part of me that is happy that at least one bit of that dirty ole street still stands tall and proud over the entrance to the New Amsterdam.

Bway
Bway on February 27, 2006 at 9:42 am

Here’s some great photos of the Empire in the “old 42nd St” from the 70’s and 80’s. I really don’t think I’d want to go back to that:

http://www.digeronimopa.com/projects/42nd.htm

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 27, 2006 at 9:07 am

I suppose I can see both sides of this debate. As an architecture buff, I would have loved to have seen the original ornate facade restored to its 1903 appointments, but as a movie theater fan I have to admire the retention of the marquee and blade. With the restoration of the Victory and Lyric, the new Selwyn/American Airlines entrance, the conversion of the Times Square Theater to retail space, the flashy AMC marquee on the relocated Empire facade and the loss of the Harris, Liberty, Rialto and Anco facades, the New Amsterdam presents us with the only remaining physical vestige of the Duece’s good old bad old grind house days. I still think it is at odds with the splendor that exists within, but I can live with and appreciate it for what it is.

And the New Victory facade dull? The reproduction of that magnificent torchiered exterior staircase is a vast improvement on the plain facade and boxy marquee that had replaced the original entrance all those years ago. There’s enough color on the block with Madam Toussad’s, McDonald’s “marquee” and the battling AMC and Loews marquees at the western end of the block.

Meanwhile, the Ecko Unlimited conversion of the old Times Square Theater is still ongoing. As of last Friday night, the building remains obscured behind construction netting and a plywood shed. No word on when the store will be opened, other than the “early 2006” announcements made a year ago.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 27, 2006 at 8:22 am

I love the exterior. All the flashiness and lights and that big vertical sign. Even though it is again a playhouse, I am glad they kept the cinema’s extravagant signage. We don’t have much of that left in New York, and I appreciate it every time I walk by. It’s an eye-popping throwback to a time I miss. While I admire the authenticity of the Victory and Lyric’s exterior, they are just a bit dull.

Bway
Bway on February 27, 2006 at 6:42 am

Disney doesn’t do anything small, so I don’t really know if “counting it’s pennies” would be what is the problem here. Look at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, and what they invested in that.
They invested so much on the interior of the New Amsterdam, it just boggles my mind that it would just be “cheapness” that would stop them from doing the exterior. It has to be something more.

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on February 27, 2006 at 6:36 am

I’m assuming that $$ was the deciding factor, not paying tribute to its cinema days. Replacing an ugly modern marquee with something more appropriate is outrageously expensive by itself…..redoing the facade entirely is very expensive….and Disney is well known for counting their pennies. What would be nice is, now that the theatre is reopened and an obvious success, that a further restoration be done for the facade. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be complicated by landmark law….even though it looks stupid in tandem with the interior, but it does qualify as an “historic” exterior.

Bway
Bway on February 27, 2006 at 6:29 am

I agree Ed. The theater was a movie house for most of it’s life, but it’s interior was the interior it has now. I just don’t feel the 1930’s exterior is appropriate considering what the interior is like. The restored the theater to it’s original design, and that should have included the exterior too.
As for a tribute to the former days of cinema, that’s all well and good too, however, let’s think of a legit theater (take your pick) that was multiplexed, and it spend most of it’s life in that multiplexed form showing movies. Then it closes, and it comes time to renovate the theater. Just because for most of it’s life it was multiplexed, would that mean you don’t restore it to it’s former glory, and just leave let’s say the balcony walled off or something, just because that’s a “tribute” to the cinema days?
I feel that’s the same situation here. Why not restore the theater to it’s ORIGINAL glory, even if it spent most of it’s life with it’s bland plain, cinema exterior?

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on February 27, 2006 at 6:20 am

One of the big decisions in preservation is what “date” to do a restoration to, and one of the things that complicates it is more recent alterations are part of the history of the building. I’m not familiar with NYC’s landmark laws, but I would not be surprised if there would have been restrictions, or at least complications, on restoring the original facade, since it was landmarked with this one.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 27, 2006 at 5:51 am

I agree, Bway. The interior is magnificent 1903 Art Nouveau opulence and the exterior is 1930’s grind-house honky tonk. I suppose the Art Moderne blade and clock have their charms (and reminds me of the tawdry 42nd Street I knew and loved from the 80’s), but its certainly an extreme clash of architectural styles. A restoration of the original facade would have been much more appropriate and a nice compliment to the restored Lyric and New Victory facades across the street.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 27, 2006 at 5:47 am

The exterior was retained to honor the theatre’s long service as a cinema, which might have been longer than as a “legit” house.

Bway
Bway on February 27, 2006 at 4:50 am

What I always wondered is why since Disney spend such a fortune on beautifully restoring the interior of this theater, that they left the remuddled exterior as it was. Why didn’t they restore the exterior fascade to the way it was built since they did so much of that on the interior? Why would they leave this exterior?

BobT
BobT on February 26, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Ed for the photo. In a previous life I worked for the marquee company and I hung the signs that hang below the marquee. Called underslings, they weigh about 50 lbs and it was always a challenge to try and hang them them on a busy 42nd Street. With two guys and two ladders, you’d be surprised how oblivious people would be to what’s going on above them! As I stated before, by looking at the plain facade, people would be really shocked how magnificent the interior of this show palace really is.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 26, 2006 at 12:20 pm

Yes… hdtv267 has the correct information about The Lion King’s closing and re-opening dates. Mary Poppins begins previews at the New Amsterdam on October 14th with an opening night of November 16th.

Gypsy Rose Lee might have never played the New Amsterdam, but she did play across the street in burlesque at the old Victory Theater when it was known as the Republic. I visit the renovated and rechristened New Victory several times a year with my kids and was there this past Friday when I snapped this nighttime photo of the New Amsterdam’s illuminated marquee and blade sign:

View link

So, The Lion King moves from a fabulously ornate and historic 1903 gem to a cold, utilitarian, modernist 1970’s house. Quite an extreme move, in terms of architecture and ambience.

Altoblanco
Altoblanco on February 21, 2006 at 2:49 pm

I received this in my company e-mail – I thought it would be nice to share. A GREAT opportunity to get what APPEARS to be a FREE peak at this theatre! (I would call to confirm eligibility to attend – corporate affiliation may be required – this looks like a promotion to push group sales to companies)

Date: Tuesday, February 21 2006 12:54 pm
From: Joe Tropia <>
Subject: A Special Look at MARY POPPINS

You are invited to a special behind the scenes look at the newest production from Disney Theatrical and Cameron Mackintosh.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006
5:30 p.m. at the New Amsterdam Theatre
The event is general admission seating and will last approximately one hour!

Her carpet bag is packed, her umbrella is unfurled, and come the fall, MARY POPPINS takes up residence at Broadway’s magnificent New Amsterdam Theatre. Based on P.L. Travers' cherished stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film, MARY POPPINS – currently one of London’s biggest sensations – features the Sherman brothers' original Academy Award-winning songs, and OliverAward-winning director Richard Eyre leads a dream team of vision and stagecraft, bringing to life the story of the Banks family and their magical nanny.

MARY POPPINS marks the first collaboration between Disney, producer of the acclaimed THE LION KING, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and TARZAN®, and Cameron Mackintosh, legendary producer of the record-breaking THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS and LES MISÉRABLES. The result is a new musical so extraordinarily enchanting that you’ll have just one word for it: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

GROUPS ARE NOW ON SALE for what is certain to be one of the hottest tickets of 2006! Special Early Bird Discounts are available for groups (minimum 15 persons) booked and paid prior to May 5th, featuring Orchestra and Front Mezzanine seats for $88.00 and Balcony seats as low as $20.00 and $32.00 for most performances! Call us today or visit us on the web for more details! Previews begin October 14th toward an opening night of November 16th!

Please fill out the following information and either
e-mail to or fax to 212-541-4892:
NAME:
COMPANY:
MAILING ADDRESS:
PHONE NUMBER:
FAX NUMBER:
E-MAIL ADDRESS:
NUMBER OF TICKETS: 1 or 2


All information must be filled out for your request to be processed! Tickets will be mailed in advance! Seating is limited and all requests will be filled on a first-come/first-served basis!

All requests must be submitted no later than Friday, February 24th. Confirmations will be sent shortly thereafter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. Thanks!

Best,

Joe Tropia
Sales & Marketing Coordinator
Broadway.com/Theatre Direct
1650 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019
1.800.BROADWAY
212.541.8457 x177 direct
212.541.4892 fax

ErikH
ErikH on February 21, 2006 at 4:41 am

“The Lion King” is still at the New Amsterdam. Disney announced the move to the Minskoff a few months ago. My recollection is that the move will take place in early summer. “Mary Poppins” opens at the New Amsterdam in November.

Bway
Bway on February 21, 2006 at 4:08 am

Is the Lion King still playing at the New Amsterdam? I heard it may be moving to another theater, but don’t know if it did or not.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 21, 2006 at 3:11 am

The last Ziegfeld Follies to be staged at the NA was the one for the year 1927. The next one, which turned out to be Ziegfeld’s last, was presented at his own Ziegfeld Theatre in 1931. He died the following year. In 1936, Gypsy Rose Lee performed in an edition of the “Ziegfeld Follies” at the Winter Garden Theatre, which was produced by the Shuberts under license from Ziegfeld’s widow, Billie Burke. To the best of my knowledge, Gypsy Rose Lee never performed at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on February 21, 2006 at 12:32 am

Alto, in the 30s The New Amsterdam was home to the Ziegfeld Follies where Gypsy Rose Lee appeared. jerry

Altoblanco
Altoblanco on February 20, 2006 at 4:50 pm

In the made-for-TV movie “Gypsy” (starred Bette Midler, broadcast on CBS-TV 12/12/1993), an black & white image of the New Amsterdam’s facade and marquee is prominently featured and colourfully animated in the opening montage and credits.

Is there a significant connection with “Gypsy”? Did the play ever have a run here, or perhaps just a film version? If so, was it a premiere or exclusive engagement?

Was it ever a major Vaudeville or burlesque venue?(another possible reason for the reference)

Just curious.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 30, 2005 at 2:14 am

In her reminiscence Moments with Chaplin, Lillian Ross recounted her walk with Chaplin around Manhattan, after his long absence from the city, at the time his Limelight was opening in 1952, and before circumstances would induce him to take up permanent residence abroad.

(Quotation follows):
An old woman in a torn dress was standing in front of the New Amsterdam Theatre selling pretzels from a battered baby stroller. “I don’t think the old girl would know whether this is where Ziegfeld had his ‘Follies,’ or whether it had a roof garden,” Chaplin said. He stopped walking. He looked puzzled, a bit hurt.
An elderly man with a pale, freckled face, who was bald except for reddish hair at the base of his skull, came along and stopped beside us. He wore a dirty white shirt open at the collar, and he had a bundle of old newspapers under one arm. “Visiting your old haunts, Charlie?” he said to Chaplin.
“Why, yes,” Chaplin said. “Yes. Yes, I am."
”“I used to come in as a kid, fifteen years old,” the man said. “I used to see you. They were good old days."
"Wasn’t this where Ziegfeld had his ‘Follies’?” Chaplin asked. “And didn’t it have a roof garden upstairs?"
"You’re right,” the man said. “And it still does have a roof garden."
"You see, I was right, wasn’t I?” Chaplin said to me.

ERD
ERD on November 1, 2005 at 9:27 am

I agree with many of the members'opinion that the exterior of the New Amsterdam should have restored to its original appearance. It would have been more consistent to the overall appearance of the renovation.

frankie
frankie on October 18, 2005 at 10:22 am

Some of the movies i saw here in the ‘60’s when I was home from college were “Gypsy”, “Bye Bye Birdie”, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, and after I graduated and went for my army physical, I took in Bette Davis in “The Nanny.” frankie from Brooklyn