Broadway Theatre

1681 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Broadway Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Broadway Theatre began life as the Colony Theatre, opening December 25, 1924, with “The Thief of Baghdad” starring Douglas Fairbanks and accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Edwin Franko Goldman. B.S. Moss built the theater for movies, and with stage facilities for vaudeville. Architect Eugene DeRosa designed the Colony Theatre. Because of its size, stage presentations were smaller than at the Paramount Theatre(1926) and Roxy Theatre(1927), but continued until December 1930. In that month, Moss changed the Colony Theatre’s name to Broadway Theatre and turned the theater ‘legitimate’. The first booking was a musical comedy, “The New Yorkers” starring Jimmy Durante and with a score by Cole Porter, but it only ran for twenty weeks.

Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” opened in New York on November 13, 1940, at the Broadway Theatre and played as a roadshow for over a year, with a special sound system, ‘Fantasound’. The world premiere of Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” was held at the Broadway Theatre on October 23, 1941.

The Broadway Theatre is best known by movie historians as the first place Cinerama and its inaugural film “This Is Cinerama” played anywhere in the world. After its September 30, 1952 World Premiere at the Broadway Theatre, “This Is Cinerama” ran for 35 weeks and was then transferred to the Warner Theatre, where it was shown for another 88 weeks. The Broadway Theatre returned as a ‘legit’ showcase.

The Shubert Organisation restored the Broadway Theatre in 1985-86, employing the architectural firm of Fox & Fowle. Little of the interior existed when they started. The Broadway Theatre reopened April 10, 1986 with Bob Fosse’s “Big Deal” which was a flop, but the following year struck gold with “Les Miserables”, followed by “Miss Saigon”. Several years ago, the Broadway Theatre received a new entrance and marquee, due to construction of an adjacent skyscraper hotel that cantelevers over it. Tucked away from the razzle dazzle of Times Square, the Broadway Theatre’s deco sign hints at its glory days.

Contributed by William Gabel, Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 79 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 11, 2011 at 11:36 am

Great photos on that site! Thanks for sharing, CWalczak! I love the surreptitious shots of the screen during the film… Really gives an idea as to how overwhelming the image must have been, particularly to those who had until that time been used to standard Academy ratio for so long!

robboehm
robboehm on September 19, 2011 at 5:50 am

In addition to the renovations mentioned in the opening the Broadway “suffered” a major modification when Candide played there. Basically it was converted to an arena with a large portion of the orchestra seating replaced by the stage.

jeffg718
jeffg718 on January 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I’ve found some websites that say that “Steamboat Willie” premiered at the Broadway Theatre in 1928 when it was the Colony and other websites that say it premiered at the 79th Street Theatre which later was renamed the Colony. I am curious to know which is correct.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm

“Steamboat Willie” opened at this Colony. The 79th Street was not named Colony until 1937.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 22, 2012 at 7:25 am

Note the CINE ROMA verticle sign at the far near corner of the marquee. This name and concept moved around between the Ambassador, Piccadilly and Broadway in the late thirties.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 23, 2013 at 8:31 am

Long before introducing Cinerama to the world, the Broadway Theatre presented the first stage show incorporating projection television. I’ve posted an ad in the Photos Section.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

Wow… 1931! I wonder how big that “giant” television screen was – not to mention how grainy or fuzzy the image was, at that size!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 23, 2013 at 9:44 am

Coincidentally, this pic, also from October, 1931, and posted back in May of 2012, shows the marquee advertising what appears to be essentially the same bill. Barto & Mann seem to be listed on the marquee in place of Al Trahan?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 24, 2013 at 7:37 am

Ed, you have very keen eyesight. I’d never compared the two images. But it turns out that the show was so successful that it was held over for a second week, with Barto & Mann replacing comedian Al Trahan. I guess that he had a conflicting engagement. I’m posting an ad in the Photos Section.

edlambert
edlambert on July 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Does anyone know the size of the screen installed at the Broadway for the premiere of “This Is Cinerama”?

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