Times Square Theatre

217 West 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Times Square Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

One of the last theaters 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, woule 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.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 157 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

Excerpt from article:

Naughty, bawdy 42nd Street is in for a touch of classy.

After standing vacant for 20-odd years, the historic Times Square Theatre at 217 W. 42nd St. will soon become Broadway 4D — a permanent musical attraction managed by a trio of accomplished entertainment executives, The Post has learned.

Climaxing a long effort to find the right user for the 1920s-vintage colonnaded venue, landlord New 42nd Street has signed a long-term lease with Broadway 4D Theatres. What the company calls Broadway Sensation — a 4D Musical Spectacular is expected to launch by late spring or early summer 2013.

Architects John Sergio Fisher and Associates have come up with a “schematic” redesign of the theater based on the original. The next step is up to the Historic Preservation Committee.

Among other guidelines, the Times Square must retain its domed ceiling and the stage proscenium arch.

Producer and theater owner Jimmy Nederlander, who’s not involved at the site, termed it “a great project that will only expand the audience for Broadway.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

Very encouraging to know that the architects have much experience in theater design and restoration, as evidenced by their official website. Hopefully, any redesigns of the Times Square will be respectful of theater’s history and retain as much of the original interior and exterior decor as possible (even more than the LPC’s requirements of keeping only the dome and proscenium intact).

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

A bit more detailed information about the renovations to the theater in this article. Sounds very promising.

The Harris remains the most notable casualty on the block, in terms of the New 42nd Street Org’s charter to preserve and restore the Duece’s historic theaters. Coming up close behind would be the Lyric and Apollo, the interiors of which only bits and pieces remain within the Foxwoods Theatre. Lamentable as those losses may be, I think I’d have to heave a sigh and consider the overall success ratio, in terms of theater preservation on 42nd Street, to be much better than the norm. By comparison, the collective fates of the old movie houses around the corner on Broadway and Seventh Avenue would evidence a monumental FAIL on the part of the City, with respect to preserving its storied legacy of cinematic exhibition.

KenLager on January 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

Things are starting to move with the 4d moving into the Times Square Theatre. Contractors being motivated to provide bidding at least.

Garth on June 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

The NY post reports that under a revised schedule, construction will begin this month and “Broadway 4D” will open in June 2014. I have posted an artist’s rendering of the completed theatre in the photos section.

robboehm on January 1, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Building is obviously under renovation with all the “drapery” on the facade.

Garth on February 17, 2014 at 7:52 am

Wikipedia reports Broadway 4D will now open in Spring 2015. Another delay.

spectrum on July 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

Broadway.com reports that the 4D project has been cancelled due to financing problems.

Don’t know how much (if any) of the renovations had actually taken place.


cmbussmann on July 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

This theater was heavily featured in the 1980 film “Times Square” by director Allan Moyle. He filmed the climatic scene on top of the marquee:


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