NYC's Hudson Theatre Opens as Broadway's Newest and Oldest

by Kathy Eddy
Broadway's Hudson Theatre
Broadway's Hudson Theatre

NEW YORK, NY—When Sunday in the Park with George began previews on Feb. 11, 2017 it marked the re-opening of New York City's historic Hudson Theatre making it the 41st Broadway house. Situated just off Times Square in New York on 44th Street, built by Henry B. Harris, a famous Broadway producer of the period, the Hudson Theatre opened on October 19, 1903 with a production of Cousin Kate starring Ethel Barrymore. The Hudson Theatre now holds the unique distinction of being both the newest Broadway house and the oldest.

Among the stars that have graced the Hudson’s stage are Ethel Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, William Holden, Helen Hayes, Edward G. Robinson and Dorothy Gish. Both Barbara Stanwyck and Judith Anderson made their stage debuts at the Hudson. Throught the 1930s and 40s it was often used as a CBS Radio station. Purchased in 1950 by NBC the space served for a time as TV studio. In fact on September 27, 1956 the first nationwide broadcast of The Tonight Show starring Steve Allen originated from The Hudson Theatre. The Tonight Show stayed at the Hudson through Jack Parr hosting until 1959. It returned to producing theater in the 60s, and it’s last Broadway performance, a play called Mike Downstairs, was on April 20, 1968. In the mid-70s it briefly became an adult movie house and in the early 80s was the Savoy Rock Club. In 1987 it was granted landmark status for both its internal and external features and in the 1990s it was incorporated into the architectural design of the Millennium Broadway Hotel when the space became part of the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. It contined its life as an event space until 2015 when the UK-based Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) signed a long term lease on the space and converted it back into a legitimate Broadway theater. In 2016, the Hudson Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Hudson Theatre now once again has actors entering stage left and audiences filling its seats. New seats at that, the space has undergone a multi-million dollar restoration to its former glory. The entire theatre community wishes a warm welcome back to the Hudson Theatre!