Booth Theatre Information
- Location: New York, New York
- Address: 222 W. 45th St.
- Capacity: approx 800
- Opened: 1913
The Booth Theatre was intended to be an intimate venue by architect Henry B. Herts and founders Winthrop Ames and Lee Shubert, and initially opened with only 668 seats (which later expanded to 783). The theatre was built opposite the Shubert Theatre and shared Shubert Alley as a means of traveling between the two structures. The building was designed in traditional Italian Renaissance flair and boasts an ivory and brown color scheme, intricate woodworking, and carpeting. One of the unique features of the theatre is a wall that separates the lobby from the auditorium in an effort to reduce the amount of drafts and outdoor noise that percolate into the theatre.
The Booth Theatre was named for Edwin Booth, the brother of the infamous Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, who made a name for himself in the acting world. With a free-flowing setup that provides plenty of space to reach restrooms and concessions on the lower level, the building's straightforward traffic flow was years ahead of its time.
The venue opened in 1913 and its first production was an Arnold Bennett play calledThe Great Adventure. But, like many opening acts, the play only reached 52 performances, despite a warm reception from critics. The theatre featured a long line of nonmusical productions that took advantage of the building's natural acoustics. The impressive projection of the actors onstage made the location a natural fit for serious dramas, but also gave way to a number of small musicals throughout the revival period of the 1980s and '90s.
The theatre has hosted a number of Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning acts throughout its history, such as George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's You Can't Take It With You in 1936, which went on to capture a Pulitzer and become one of the longest-running shows at the theatre, lasting for 838 performances over the course of nearly two years. One of the venue's most successful productions was Steven Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Sunday in the Park with George in 1984, which would eventually win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as numerous Tony nominations. In the 2000s, the historic venue played host to Paul Newman's return to Broadway in 2002's Our Town and the 2009 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal.
The Booth Theatre continues to be one of the most stunning performance halls built during the Broadway boom but has a uniquely subdued quality that makes it one of the most visually impressive venues in the drama world.