Broadway Theatre

1681 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Broadway Theatre - New York (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: B.S. Moss Enterprises, Shubert Brothers Theater Company, Universal Chain Theatrical Enterprises Inc.

Architects: Eugene DeRosa

Functions: Concerts, Live Theater

Styles: Italian Renaissance

Previous Names: B.S. Moss Colony Theatre, Colony Theatre, Cine Roma

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 212.586.1444

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News About This Theater

Broadway Theatre

Opened as the B.S. Moss' Colony Theatre on December 25, 1924, with “The Thief of Baghdad” starring Douglas Fairbanks and accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Edwin Franko Goldman. B.S. Moss Enterprises built the theatre for movies, and with stage facilities for vaudeville. Architect Eugene DeRosa designed the Colony Theatre. It was taken over by Universal Pictures chain in 1927. Because of its size, stage presentations were smaller than at the Paramount Theatre(1926) and Roxy Theatre(1927), but continued until December 1930 when it was taken back by B.S. Moss Enterprises. In that month, Moss changed the Colony Theatre’s name to Broadway Theatre and turned the theatre ‘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 Art Deco style sign hints at its glory days.

Contributed by William Gabel, Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 57 comments)

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”?

DavidZornig on May 19, 2015 at 7:24 am

Incredible December 1928 photo as the Colony added courtesy of the Eyes Of A Facebook page.

Hammerstein Theatre, now the Ed Sullivan Theatre in the background. Below copy/history of the Hammerstein also courtesy of the Eyes Of A Facebook page.

Tomorrow is David Letterman’s last day in this grand theater that was built in 1927. This photo shows “Good Boy” playing at what was then The Hammerstein Theater in December of 1928. The famous song at this link was first performed here and was the first “hit” event in the theater’s history.

The song is “I Want To Be Loved By You.” and is sung by Helen Kane, who’s voice and style was the inspiration for the famous cartoon character Betty Boop. In 1931, bankruptcy forced the sale, and the theater was bought by Billy Rose. After a few more years of legitimate theater ventures, Rose entered a long term lease with CBS in 1936. The debut radio show from here was “The Major Bowes Amateur Hour,” and the venue was known as CBS Radio Playhouse.

In 1950, the theater was converted to television and became CBS Studio 50. The first big production from Studio 50 was “The Jackie Gleason Show” in the fall of 1950. In ‘52, Ed Sullivan’s “Toast Of The Town” show was moved from The Maxine Elliot Theater to Studio 50, and joined Gleason there. Tomorrow night, another chapter ends, and a new one will begin again soon at 1697 Broadway.

Coate on November 13, 2015 at 9:25 am

Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” premiered here on this date in 1940. Happy 75th! And here’s a retrospective article to mark the occasion. Included is a historian interview and a breakdown of where the film played in its initial roadshow release.

Cinerama on January 11, 2016 at 7:27 am

More info here – when it was a Cinerama theatre.

Coate on April 12, 2016 at 10:52 pm

As cited in my retrospective article, the Broadway Theatre held the longest-running roadshow engagement of Disney’s “Fantasia” and was among only eleven venues that presented the film in Fantasound.

robboehm on April 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

My parents may have taken me to see Fantasia as a child. We went to a lot of movies in the city. Finally got to see it many years later on the CinemaScope screen of my local theater.

DavidZornig on June 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Circa 1963 photo added courtesy of Neil Marsolekā€Ž. “The Girl Who Came To Supper” premiered on stage at the Broadway Theatre December 8th, 1963.

vindanpar on June 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

CC I’m not sure if you are reproaching Zornig or just repeating what he already said.

DavidZornig on June 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm

vindanpar, CC’s above comment has been removed, but it is still present under the photo. I stated above that it was “on stage”, but did not do so on the photo description. The notification is what alerted members to the addition of the photo, so it is moot.

vindanpar on June 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Ok I was just trying to figure out the point of CC’s post.

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