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 182 comments)

DavidZornig on February 21, 2019 at 12:27 pm

1959 Apollo and Time Square Theatre photos in below link, celebrating Sidney Poitier’s 92nd birthday.


42ndStreetMemories on February 21, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for sharing, David. Love seeing photos of 42nd from my time there. And love playing the Name That Movie game with the marquees.

DavidZornig on February 21, 2019 at 1:19 pm

I tried to add the photos to the gallery pages in case the NYT link goes dead. But they have some kind of blocker that prevents re-uploading them, even after they are downloaded away from the link.

robboehm on February 21, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Use the clipping tool feature on your computer to get around this.

DavidZornig on February 21, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Over my head. Had WebTV for 15 years. Lucky I can turn my computer on…

42ndStreetMemories on February 22, 2019 at 5:45 am

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

robboehm on February 22, 2019 at 11:29 am

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

DavidZornig on February 22, 2019 at 11:54 am

$100 million redevelopment article with photos.


Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 14, 2019 at 6:12 pm

Another lift and switch project.


bigjoe59 on October 31, 2019 at 4:13 pm


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

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