90 Years of The Ethel Barrymore Theatre

by Stage Directions

On December 20, The Ethel Barrymore Theatre celebrated its 90th Anniversary. Here’s a video from The Broadway League of some of the highlights over the years at this storied theatre.

The Ethel Barrymore Theatre is the only surviving theatre of the many Lee and J.J. Shubert built for performers who were affiliated with them. Ethel Barrymore was part of the renowned Barrymore acting dynasty, and her tremendous popularity in New York and London society established her as a household name in the U.S. and England. She had achieved stardom under the management of producer Charles Frohman beginning in 1901. In 1928, the Shuberts offered to build her a theatre and commission a play for her to premiere in her namesake house.

The interior view of The Ethel Barrymore TheatreThe Barrymore Theatre opened on December 20, 1928, with The Kingdom of God, a play selected by leading lady Ethel Barrymore. Over the next dozen years, she returned to star in The Love Duel (1929), Scarlett Sister Mary (1930), The School for Scandal (1931), and An International Incident (1940). It has been used continuously as a legitimate house, unlike many of the older theatres that have been used for a variety of purposes throughout the years. The Bands Visit is currently playing at the Barrymore.

The exterior view of the marquee of The Ethel Barrymore TheatreThe Barrymore is the last theatre Lee and J.J. Shubert built. Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, its exterior was modeled on the design of public baths in Rome, with a two-story terra-cotta grillwork screen. The interior decor combines Elizabethan, Mediterranean, and Adamsesque styles. The most elaborate interior element is the boxes, which feature a sunburst pattern over a columned portico.

Notable Productions at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre:

  • 1929: Death Takes a Holiday
  • 1931: Mélo
  • 1932: Gay Divorce
  • 1933: Design for Living
  • 1936: Night Must FallThe Women
  • 1938: Knickerbocker Holiday
  • 1940: Pal Joey
  • 1941: Best Foot Forward
  • 1947: A Streetcar Named Desire
  • 1950: Bell, Book and Candle
  • 1951: The Fourposter
  • 1953: Tea and Sympathy
  • 1955: The Chalk Garden
  • 1957: Small War on Murray Hill
  • 1959: A Raisin in the Sun
  • 1960: Critic's Choice
  • 1966: Wait Until Dark
  • 1967: Black Comedy/White Lies
  • 1968: Don't Drink the WaterThe Seven Descents of Myrtle
  • 1970: Conduct Unbecoming
  • 1971: Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural DeathThe Philanthropist
  • 1972: Don't Play Us Cheap
  • 1975: The Night That Made America Famous
  • 1976: Poor Murderer
  • 1977: I Love My Wife
  • 1979: Romantic Comedy
  • 1982: Is There Life After High School?
  • 1983: Baby
  • 1984: Hurlyburly
  • 1986: Social Security
  • 1988: Joe Turner's Come and Gone
  • 1989: Rumors
  • 1990: Lettice and Lovage
  • 1993: The Sisters Rosensweig
  • 1995: Indiscretions
  • 1997: The Life
  • 1998: Electra
  • 1999: Putting It Together
  • 2000: The Tale of the Allergist's Wife
  • 2002: Imaginary Friends
  • 2005: The Glass Menagerie
  • 2006: Ring of FireCompany
  • 2007: Red Carpet Massacre
  • 2008: NovemberSpeed-the-Plow
  • 2009: Exit the KingRace
  • 2010: Elling
  • 2011: ArcadiaAn Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin
  • 2012: Death of a SalesmanChaplin
  • 2013: MacbethBetrayal
  • 2014: A Raisin in the SunThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • 2016: Alton Brown Live: Eat Your ScienceThe Present
  • 2017: Six Degrees of SeparationThe Band's Visit