Belasco Theatre Information
- Location: New York, New York
- Address: 111 W. 44th St.
- Capacity: approx 1040
- Opened: 1907
To understand the history of the Belasco Theatre, you first have to comprehend the colorful character who brought it to life in the first place. David Belasco was a jack-of-all-trades who worked as a director, playwright, set designer and actor, and was often called the "bishop of Broadway " for his wildly extravagant robes that resembled a priest's attire. Belasco owned another theatre in New York, which he renamed the Belasco Theatre, and opened up the current structure, which he dubbed the Stuyvesant, in 1907. When the first Belasco changed its name, today's building was given his moniker. The theatre was renowned for its cutting-edge set designs with elevators that rose from the floor, light dimmers, set and lighting studios, and seating for up to 1,100 attendees. Designed by architect George Keister, the theater greeted visitors with an ornate lobby with Tiffany-stained glass light fixtures, accessible concessions and washrooms, and elaborate murals.
It was in 1907 that the theatre showcased its first production, A Grand Army Man. The play was written by Belasco, Pauline Phelps, and Marion Short and starred David Warfield, Jane Cowl, and Antoinette Perry. After years of hosting nonmusical shows and short dramas, the theatre produced a number of large-scale musical productions that became wildly popular.
The Belasco Theatre's longest-running production was Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, which graced the stage for 684 performances. The play, social commentary about young boys who were attracted to the gangster life of 1930s New York, went on to achieve success on the big screen as well. The Belasco would soon evolve into a revolving door of plays, musicals, and unforgettable theatre productions throughout much of its history.
After the theatre's extensive renovation in the summer of 2009, it reopened with expanded facilities, new seats, and careful attention to the details of David Belasco's initial design. Now under the control of The Shubert Organization, it remains one of the most treasured landmarks in New York City and an homage to the early 20th-century theatre aficionados who dreamed of creating a venue that combined traditional charm and revolutionary set design. Oftentimes, quality off-Broadway productions get their chance at the Belasco, so it's vital for theatergoers to stay abreast of its changing schedule of talent.