Times Square Theatre

217 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Times Square Theatre

One of the last theatres in the Times Square area to not be demolished or saved, this Eugene DeRosa-designed former legitimate house opened on September 30, 1920, for the brothers Edgar & Arch Selwyn. The opening play was “The Mirage” written by Edgar Selwyn and starring Florence Reed, which ran for six months.

Despite having one of the more recognizable facades in the area, complete with a tall row of Neo-Classical style columns, the Times Square Theatre has little to no lobby. The auditorium is decorated in an Empire/Adam style, with seating provided for 512 in the orchestra level, and 529 in the single balcony level. There are four boxes, which seat a total of 16.

Several hit plays ran at the Times Square Theatre, including “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” in 1926-1927, “The Front Page” in 1928, George Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band” in 1930, and “Private Lives” brought the original London cast to Broadway in 1931, starring Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and Laurence Olivier. The last play to be staged at the Times Square Theatre was Tallulah Bankhead in “Forsaking All Others” in the summer of 1933.

In 1934, the Time Square Theatre was converted into a movie theatre, with the stage being converted into a retail store, therefore virtually ending its live theatre career. It was operated for many years by the Brandt Theatres chain. Ending its run in the 1980’s as a discount movie theatre, the auditorium has since closed and over the years has sustained fire damage and the wear and tear of time.

It was announced in July of 2004 that the urban apparel retailer, Ecko Unlimited, would be converting the old Times Square Theatre into a four-story store, with architectural elements such as the proscenium arch, ceiling dome, and ornamental plasterwork saved. This never happened.

In early-2011, plans were proposed to renovate and reopen the theatre housing a Las Vegas style multimedia show named “Broadway 4D”. Opening was planned for June 2014, but the project was cancelled. On September 18, 2018 it was announced that the theatre would recieve a $100 million renovation to convert into retail use.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 187 comments)

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on February 22, 2019 at 1:45 pm

DavidZornig: I had saved one of the pix with the Times Square in the background and I just uploaded it. Thanks again.

robboehm
robboehm on February 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm

David, my computer displays an icon of a pair of scissors. Click on that and follow the prompts.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 22, 2019 at 7:54 pm

$100 million redevelopment article with photos.

https://untappedcities.com/2019/02/22/photos-inside-the-long-abandoned-times-square-theater-as-it-begins-100-million-redevelopment/?fbclid=IwAR152qGl18192ZaxTNFW2fra2vt76bkNNHKhPmeZlAbBM9cbT6SfFKWambk

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 15, 2019 at 2:12 am

Another lift and switch project.

https://rew-online.com/2019/04/developer-ready-to-lift-and-tuck-old-theater-in-bold-move-to-create-times-square-star/?fbclid=IwAR3OHLde0xy6i3zsD6-N-nk2CO9Rqa2m_hTUAOIdZh4IrDL6vOhTY9Hsu_Y

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on October 31, 2019 at 11:13 pm

Hello-

is there any chance this theater will be anything
anytime soon?

spectrum
spectrum on February 1, 2020 at 11:52 pm

Here’s a link to the developer’s website about the theatre – lots of info and renderings.

https://www.timessquaretheater42.com/

Some details of the project from the linked article. Looks like major construction to start fall 2020 with the building opening in 2021.

The decorative plaster elements would be cut into pieces and stored in a warehouse temporarily until it undergoes a restoration process.

While the historical elements are being restored, the developers will be cutting out the façade of the building and hydraulically jacking it up. The process will make room for the third and fourth floors, while also letting SDI create a 23-foot-tall glass enclosure on the second floor that cantilevers over 42nd Street to allow visitors to feel like they’re floating above the streets of Times Square.

Once completed, a spiral staircase will lead visitors up to the third and fourth floors, that feature the historic dome directly above the staircase and the proscenium arch that acts as a gateway to the event space that is fit for a restaurant or food hall, Boyajian said.

“All these elements will come back and be fully restored and placed up there as a reminder to the historic nature of this place,” Boyajian said.

The new five-floor 50,000 s/f space will feature more than 100 feet of retail frontage on 42nd Street, a rooftop space with room for a food/beverage or entertainment tenant, and LED billboards.

Boyajian said he expects the restoration and façade lifting to go from summer to fall and the demolition and excavation to start in 2020 for an early 2021 completion. Colliers International will be in charge of leasing the space.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 2, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Hello-

since they’re spending a truckload of $$$ why not just renovate back into a legitimate theater?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 2, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Bigjoe, I think the size of the theater and space for facilities (which were converted to retail decades ago) are too small, by today’s standards, for serious consideration. And it is completely boxed in by the new Lyric and Selwyn theaters, so no room to expand.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 2, 2020 at 11:37 pm

I think there is also an issue that the stage house entrance is on 42nd St. itself, which would make it awkward to load scenery in and out on such a busy thoroughfare

robboehm
robboehm on February 3, 2020 at 12:31 am

Yes Mike, it is the issue with loading and such. There are new standards in place and, apparently, the old can’t be grandfathered.

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