Location: New York, New York
Address: 239 W. 45th St.
Capacity: approx 1020
The story of the founding of the Music Box Theatre may be one of the most interesting tales in Broadway history. In 1919, producer Sam H. Harris made an offer to his friend Irving Berlin - if he could write a musical revue, he would find a theatre to host it in. Berlin went on to write The Music House Revue, and the playhouse was built to bring it to life. The theatre was designed by architects Charles Howard Crane and E. George Kiehler in a neo-Georgian style, resembling more of a country manor than the elegantly appointed Italian Renaissance theatres that were built during the time. The building's beautiful limestone facade greets visitors who enter an opulent lobby that leads to a performance hall, which holds just over 1,000 attendees. Harris owned the theatre until his death in 1941, when his widow split ownership between the Shubert brothers and Berlin. It remained co-owned until 2007 when the Shuberts gained sole possession of the storied playhouse.
The Music Box Revue was the first production at the theatre in 1921, and audiences immediately fell in love with the musical. Berlin created a new revue for each of the next four years, which helped to solidify the reputation of the new venue. While the Music Box got its start with musicals, it has become one of the preferred spots for dramas, comedies and other legitimate theatre productions.
The playhouse's early years were punctuated in 1931 by the arrival of Of Thee I Sing, which became the first musical comedy to win a Pulitzer Prize. Written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind and brought to life with George Gershwin's score and Ira Gershwin's lyrics, it ran for 441 performances and became the longest-running show at the Music Box up to that point. Kaufman and co-writer Moss Hart finished off the 1930s in style with the classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner, which starred Monty Woolley and went on to run for 739 performances. The Music Box's longest-running show was the 1978 comedic thriller Deathtrap, starring John Wood and Marian Seldes. The production would run for an astonishing 1,793 performances at the Music Box Theatre before moving to the Biltmore Theatre.
The Music Box Theatre may be small by Broadway standards, but it has proved to be an extremely versatile venue that can bring out the best in legitimate theatre and musicals alike.
Music Box Theatre Ticket Information:
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