Burnishing the Golden Theatre

by Jacob Coakley
Rose Brand supplied the main curtain at the Shubert Organization’s Golden Theatre, and the custom-sewn over-valance.
Rose Brand supplied the main curtain at the Shubert Organization’s Golden Theatre, and the custom-sewn over-valance.

Currently home to Christopher Durang’s satirical update on Chekhov, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, the Shubert Organization’s Golden Theatre recently went through an update of its own, a complete renovation of the audience chamber. To guide this renovation, the Shuberts turned to the head of the small creative firm Francesca Russo Architect—Francesca Russo herself.

“The Shubert Organization wanted a full interior restoration of the theatre proper,” says Russo. “It consisted of removing most of the interior finishes, seating, soft goods, lighting, including the paint palette, and recreating what was there originally.” Russo and her team dove into historical documents to find the original theatre behind the painted-gray walls and re-discovered a vibrant paint palette (a beautiful red-orange and blue-green), frescos along the sides of the theatre, and intricate detailing on the original curtains.

 

Francesca Russo’s water color renderings of the new color palette and curtain elements for the Golden Theatre’s renovation.
Francesca Russo’s water color renderings of the new color palette and curtain elements for the Golden Theatre’s renovation.

“There was a detail painted on the over-valence—it was very obscured in the photo that we had,” says Russo. “I found a detail on the exterior of the Taj Mahal and stole that detail and used it as inspiration on a repeating pattern for the over-valance.” And to make sure it was created with the original opulence and care to attention of the original curtain, Russo turned to Rose Brand. “The folks at Rose Brand are a joy to work with. With finicky details they’re right there with us, doing mockups, understanding the essence and concepts of what we’re trying to do and transforming them into a real drapery project,” says Russo. Rose Brand provided the custom-sewn over-valance and coordinated its hand-painted detailing with Hudson Scenic.

 

Rose Brand provided more custom sewn products for the restoration, including the main stage curtain, house curtains, railing fascias and even jabots. One of the original elements of the theatre’s design was rich, red velour curtains in the archways over doors in the theatre. “That’s not typically done, drapery over doors within arches, but it was the original intent,” says Russo. “Rose Brand was right there with us every step of the way.”

 

The jabots over the drapery at the Golden Theatre (background) as well as rear orchestra  drapery designed both to define  the rear cross-aisle and as a light lock for latecomers.
The jabots over the drapery at the Golden Theatre (background) as well as rear orchestra drapery designed both to define the rear cross-aisle and as a light lock for latecomers.

The jabots were swags of fabric gathered together at the top of the archway above the doors, and flowing down the sides, forming a rhythm from the top of the archways down to the bottom. And of course, all of the fabric is inherently fire retardant. “Rose Brand has a team of people that are both technically inclined and artistically inclined,” adds Russo, who praised the technicians who developed the patterns off measurements as well as the staff who “have years of experience in drapery and historically how drapery has been created through the years” and “know instinctively what we’re looking for.” Brent Porter, director of custom sewing at Rose Brand, developed three samples of jabots for Russo. “We picked the best one and it was just perfect.”