Location: New York, New York
Address: 214 W. 42nd St.
Capacity: approx 1800
The New Amsterdam Theatre is one of the oldest playhouses in all of New York City, but the venue once dubbed "the house beautiful" hit a few speed bumps over the years. The theatre opened in 1903 and was built by producers Marc Klaw and Abraham Erlanger and was designed by the renowned architects Herts & Tallant. The storied building sits on 42nd Street and exudes some of the most popular Beaux-Arts features from the time period, such as carved wood and stone, painted tiles, murals and multiple balconies in the main performance hall. It is also one of the largest performance halls in New York City, initially opening with 1,750 seats and was later expanded to more than 1,800. Like many theatres of its time, the New Amsterdam was converted to a movie house and served that purpose for decades. It was eventually purchased by Disney, who performed extensive renovations before its grand re-opening in 1997.
The theatre's first production in November 1903 was a lavish interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which starred popular performers Nat C. Goodwin and William Farnum. The show only lasted a handful of performances before audiences lost interest. However, the play laid the groundwork for many of the upscale productions that were soon to come, and the New Amsterdam became one of the foremost venues for large-scale dramas and comedies.
The venue's first big hit arrived in 1907 with Franz Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow, starring Ethel Jackson and Donald Brian. It lasted for 416 performances, a huge milestone in an age where 100 shows was considered a very successful run. The theatre was also tailor-made to the staging of revues, combining comedic sketches, dancing and songs. Florenz Ziegfeld's Ziegfeld Follies became an immediate success at the venue and would inspire the famous revivals in the future.
The theatre kicked off the 1920s with a bang with the Guy Bolton-Jerome Kern musical Sally, starring Marilyn Miller in what's generally considered to be her greatest role. With Ziegfeld as the producer, the show would go on to run for 570 performances and become the theatre's biggest success up to that point. After the theatre's grand re-opening in 1997, it became Disney's showpiece for many of its new musicals, such as the Tony Award-winning The Lion King, which got its start at the New Amsterdam. The playhouse's most recent big success is Mary Poppins, which opened in 2006 and continues to run to this day after more than 2,000 performances.
The New Amsterdam Theatre has gone through a number of changes over its long history and it remains one of the most opulent performance halls in the Big Apple.
New Amsterdam Theatre Ticket Information:
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