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 175 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 19, 2018 at 1:40 am

Another short life, over-priced tourist rip-off “museum”. Like National Geographic’s latest con of shark fakes or Gulliver’s Travels.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 19, 2018 at 3:06 am

That article is 2-½ years old, from March 2016

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 19, 2018 at 3:10 am

Although one sentence is still very relevant:

“New 42nd Street found successful new uses for all seven of the block’s other theaters, but efforts to get the lights back on at the Times Square have fallen frustratingly short.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 19, 2018 at 3:46 am

Ignoring the fate of the Harris Theatre, however…

NYer
NYer on September 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm

Sorry wrong link…below is the link from yesterday’s BroadwayWorld.com

The Times Square Theatre to Receive $100 Million Renovation

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/The-Times-Square-Theatre-to-Receive-100-Million-Renovation-20180918

markp
markp on September 20, 2018 at 12:47 am

I read on a facebook link it going to be retail. How sad.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on September 20, 2018 at 1:18 am

yep, retail sounds sad for this space! article – Stillman Development will be responsible for the $100 million project, and has signed a 73-year lease for the space, which will be reconceived as a multi-floor retail space.

The extensive renovation plan is set to incorporate elements of the theatre’s original design, and will preserve the original proscenium, dome, and boxes.

The plans also include restoration of architectural features and will lift the property façade by five feet, which will result in higher ceilings on the ground floor. Developers have also planned to construct a two story glass box and outdoor space on the property.

According to reports, the developers hope to appeal to “entertainment-focused retailers”.

The property has changed hands a number of times over the years, most recently having been leased to an entertainment and multimedia company based in Singapore. In 2014, a deal fell through for the much-discussed Broadway 4D project.

Developers estimate that the project will take at least two years to complete.

robboehm
robboehm on September 20, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Well, maybe this will finally put the space to use. As I mentioned earlier the property cannot be used as a theater anymore because of some changes to the zoning laws involving a loading dock.

NYer
NYer on September 20, 2018 at 9:22 pm

Disney could easily take it and do what they did to the El Capitan. Open their big pictures exclusively in NY proper for weeks. Make them events, add a small stage show. Their shows are modest set wise, so a huge loading dock probably isn’t necessary anyway.

markp
markp on September 21, 2018 at 12:02 am

NYer, that would be so awesome. Too bad it wont happen.

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