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The Lyceum Theatre in NYC Turns 115

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • November 13, 2018

On November 2nd, 2018, the Lyceum Theatre, which is located at 149 West 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in New York City, turned 115 years old. Here’s a short video from the Broadway League covering the theater’s 115 years of history: {youtube}v=b0jjxa9_7Bc{/youtube}

Opened on November 2, 1903, the Lyceum Theatre is one of the three oldest surviving Broadway venues (along with the Hudson and New Amsterdam Theatres). It is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theater in New York City, and the first Broadway theater ever to be granted landmark status (1974). It is one of the few theaters in New York which continues to operate under its original name.

Designed by architects Herts & Tallant in the Beaux-Arts style, the Lyceum was built by impresario Daniel Frohman. It opened on November 2, 1903, with the play The Proud Prince. Frohman’s brother Charles served as the theater’s manager until his death in 1915.

The theater maintains most of its original Beaux-Arts design, including its elaborate marble staircases and undulating marquee. Although it has three levels, it is one of the smaller Broadway theaters in terms of capacity, seating only 922. An apartment located above the orchestra, originally used by Frohman, is now the headquarters of the Shubert Archives.

The exterior of The Lyceum Theatre

Among the prominent performers who appeared on the Lyceum’s stage in its early years were Ethel Barrymore, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Ina Claire, Miriam Hopkins, Walter Huston, Basil Rathbone, and Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Production and actor highlights include Tony Award®-winner Judy Holliday starring in Born Yesterday in 1946. The Shubert Organization took ownership of the theater in 1949. Look Back in Anger opened in 1957 and is nominated for three Tony Awards in 1958. In 1960, Joan Plowright earned a Tony Award for her role in A Taste of Honey.

In 1976, The Tony Award-winning musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God opened. Danny Glover made his Broadway debut in “Master Harold”…and the boys in 1982. Whoopi Goldberg wrote and starred in her self-titled one-woman show in 1984.

In the 1990s, the theater housed many productions of Tony Randall’s National Actors Theatre and productions for the Lincoln Center Theatre. 2003 saw the opening of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning one-man show I Am My Own Wife that featured Jefferson Mays. The revival of A View From The Bridge opened and went on to win two Tony Awards in 2016. The Play That Goes Wrong opened in April of 2017, and the new musical, Be More Chill is scheduled to open in March 2019.

We at Stage Directions, wish The Lyceum Theatre, a Happy 115th Birthday!

Notable Productions

  • 1903: The Admirable Crichton
  • 1910: The Importance of Being Earnest
  • 1910: The Assumption of Hannele
  • 1912: The Loves of Queen Elizabeth – silent film with Sarah Bernhardt, U.S. premiere
  • 1919: The Gold Diggers
  • 1935: Three Men on a Horse
  • 1936: The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • 1946: Born Yesterday
  • 1950: The Country Girl
  • 1952: Time Out For Ginger
  • 1955: A Hatful of Rain
  • 1957: Look Back in Anger
  • 1960: A Taste of Honey
  • 1965: Entertaining Mr Sloane
  • 1972: Liza with a Z
  • 1973: Out Cry
  • 1975: The Lieutenant (musical)
  • 1976: Something’s Afoot
  • 1980: Morning’s at Seven
  • 1982: “Master Harold”…and the Boys
  • 1985: As Is
  • 1995: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • 1997: The Sunshine Boys
  • 1999: Night Must Fall
  • 2003: I Am My Own Wife
  • 2005: Steel Magnolias
  • 2006: The Lieutenant of Inishmore
  • 2007: Inherit the WindIs He Dead?
  • 2008: Macbeth[title of show]
  • 2009: reasons to be prettyIn the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)
  • 2010: LoopedThe Scottsboro Boys
  • 2011: Ghetto Klown
  • 2012: Venus in Fur
  • 2013: The NanceA Night with Janis Joplin
  • 2014: The Realistic JonesesDisgraced
  • 2015: The VisitA View from the Bridge
  • 2016: Fully CommittedOh, Hello
  • 2017: The Play That Goes Wrong

 The proscenium arch of the Lyceum Theatre

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