Times Square Theatre

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

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Times Square Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 161 comments)

KenLager on January 10, 2013 at 9:24 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 7:16 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 5:39 pm

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

Garth on February 17, 2014 at 5:52 am

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

spectrum on July 7, 2014 at 8:26 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 9:27 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:


markp on March 11, 2015 at 6:26 am

Lets hope for that. Went by it just last night.

robboehm on March 11, 2015 at 6:57 am

Maybe he could also pick up the Liberty. The auditorium is still a void but some sort of eatery uses the lobby.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 11, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Robboehm… The lobby is no longer in existence for the Liberty. Only the auditorium was saved, and is available for event rentals. There is an “immersive” show centered around the Ziegfeld Follies that is booked for the Liberty this spring. I’ll post about it on the Liberty page (if someone hasn’t beaten me to it).

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Probably take some work to restore stage facilities at the Times Square. If I’m not mistaken, the stage was converted to retail space decades ago. The fly tower still seems to be intact – at least from exterior views. Not sure if that would require work and possible expansion to suit modern day theatrical needs.

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