104-106 W. 39th Street,
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The Princess was a joint venture between the Shuberts, producer Ray Comstock and actor-director Holbrook Blinn. It was built on a narrow slice of land on 39th Street, just off 6th Avenue, and sat 299, one of the smallest Broadway theaters built when it opened in early 1913. The architect was William A. Swasey, who designed the Winter Garden two years earlier.
Originally planned as a venue for short, one-act dramatic plays, the Princess instead became a showplace for light musical comedies, from 1915 into the early 20s.
Though fairly drab on the outside, looking like a six-story office building except for its marquees and gaudy electric sign over the main entrance, the Princess was quite elegant inside. A blend of Georgian and French Renaissance styles, the auditorium contained fourteen rows of seats, twelve boxes off the proscenium arch, and was hailed for its excellent acoustics and sight-lines. The decor included neoclassical inspired plasterwork and antique French tapestries hung from the side walls.
In 1922, drama returned to the Princess for another seven years, but, unfortunately, success did not, and after a brief stint as the Lucille LaVerne Theatre in 1928, the Shuberts sold the theater.
In 1929, the New York Theatre Assembly took over the Princess and renamed it the Assembly Theatre. However, within half a year, the theater was closed, and remained unused until 1933, when it reopened as the Reo Theatre, and was, like so many other former legitimate houses, now being used as a movie theater.
A year later, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) acquired the theater, and used it as a recreation center for neighborhood workers.
However, in 1937, legitimate theater returned to the theater, now called the Labor Stage, in a big way, with “Pins and Needles,” which was the longest running Broadway show of the day, running for 1108 performances. When the show moved to the Windsor Theatre, the ILGWU reclaimed the theater briefly as its recreation hall.
In 1947, movies returned to the theater, now renamed the Cinema Dante, screening foreign features. A year later, it got another name change, the Little Met, and in 1952, yet one final name, the Cine Verdi.
By the mid-50s, the old Princess was on the outskirts of the theater district, and in 1955, the little theater was torn down.
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