August Wilson Theatre Information
- Location: New York, New York
- Address: 245 W. 52nd St.
- Capacity: approx 1220
- Opened: 1925
The August Wilson Theatre features an eye-catching facade that has been attracting patrons ever since it began as the Guild Theatre in 1925. Built by the Theatre Guild, which had outgrown its confines at the Garrick Theatre across town and needed a place to call its own, the decor is reminiscent of many of the structures created during this period. However, the designers, C. Howard Crane, Kenneth Franzheim, and Charles Bettis made a glaring oversight during the construction by making the stage absurdly large while leaving little room for dressing rooms or staging areas. Nevertheless, the venue remained one of the most modern facilities in New York when it opened its doors, thanks to the Italian-inspired architecture, plasterwork and ornate wall designs.
The theatre's first production was Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, which ran for 128 performances and received a warm reception from many of its patrons. A number of nonmusical plays were performed at the Guild throughout the 1920s and '30s until financial constraints forced the Guild to rent out the theatre as a radio station in 1943. However, in the 1980s, the theatre would start to showcase large-budget musical extravaganzas which form the backbone of today's Broadway circuit.
Since its commitment to large productions in the early '80s, the August Wilson Theatre has played host to successful productions such as Mean Girls, Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Crucible, and Little Shop of Horrors. It also hosted a number of one-man shows and small-scale productions that tackled a range of topics from politics to religion to history. The theatre's longest-running production, Jersey Boys, has more than 2,500 performances to its credit and continues to be one of the most popular "jukebox " musicals to ever grace Broadway.
The August Wilson Theatre is one of the most striking structures on 52nd Street in New York City, and the many productions it has hosted over the years have been landmarks for the drama universe and continue to amaze audiences the world over. It's likely to continue to enthrall audiences with its comfortable seating and delectable concessions for years to come.