111 W. 44th Street,
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The Stuyvesant Theatre was opened on October 16, 1907 with a play “A Grand Army Man” written by David Belasco. The theatre was built for and operated by producer, director, playwright David Belasco. On September 3, 1910 it was renamed Belasco Theatre when the original Belasco Theatre on W. 42nd Street reverted back to its original name of Republic Theatre (now New Victory Theatre). The Belasco Theatre 3-level auditorium has seating provided in orchestra, mezzanine and balcony. The auditorium walls have rich walnut paneling, ornamental Tiffany lamps and 18 mural panels painted by Everett Shinn. There is a huge elevator stage and above the auditorium was Belasco’s 10-room duplex apartment.
Although it had its fair share of ‘flops’, there were some notable hits along the way: The musical “Hit the Deck” opened on April 25, 1927, Humphrey Bogart in “The Wise Child” on August 6, 1928 and “Tonight or Never” starring Melvyn Douglas opened on November 18, 1930, which was the last production under David Belasco. He died on May 14, 1931.
Katherine Cornell took over the lease followed by Mrs Hazel Rice until late-1934 when it was taken over by The Group Theatre. On October 28, 1935 “Dead End” was an immediate hit and was followed by “Golden Boy”. Other plays were “Johnny Belinda”, “Trio” (a play about lesbianism), Judy Holiday & Richard Widmark in “Kiss Them For Me” on March 20, 1945, Martita Hunt & Estelle Winwood in “The Madwoman of Chaillot” on December 27, 1948 ran for 368 performances.
In 1948 it was purchased by the Shubert Brothers and in 1949 they leased the Belasco Theatre to NBC and it became a NBC Radio Theatre. It returned to legitimate use on November 5, 1953 when the hit comedy “The Solid Gold Cadillac” was followed on October 13, 1955 with Jayne Mansfield in “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”. The next hit was Lilian Gish in “All the Way Home” from November 30, 1960. Two productions from London, UK’s West End then hit the stage: Nicol Williamson in “Inadmissable Evidence” followed by the original London cast headed by Beryl Reid in “The Killing of Sister George” which ran for 205 performances. From February 26, 1971 the Off Broadway musical “Oh! Calcutta!” caused a sensation on its long run, ending on August 12, 1972 (1,314 performances). The theatre was then used by the Shubert Organisation as a moveover house for hit shows, which included the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin'. "The Rocky Horror Show” had a short run here, before it became a cult hit.
In 1987 the Belasco Theatre was given Landmark designation by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commision which cited both the exterior & interior of the theatre. The theatre was renovated in 2010.
In October 2019 it was announced that the Belasco Theatre would be leased to Netflix for a month from November 1 to December 1, to showcase the new Martin Scorsese movie “The Irishman” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino & Joe Pesci. The movie had premiered on September 27, 2019 as part of the New York Film Festival. For the movie, Netflix installed a projection booth at the rear of the orchestra seating, an 18x32ft wide screen, and surround sound on all three levels of the auditorium.
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