George Gershwin Theatre Information
- Location: New York, New York
- Address: 222 W. 51st St.
- Capacity: approx 1935
- Opened: 1972
The Gershwin Theatre, built-in 1972, is a relative newcomer to Broadway. The first large-scale performance hall built in the area since 1931 and originally called the Uris Theatre, it sits at Broadway and 51st Streets next to the Circle in the Square Theatre. The building boasts 1,900 seats, the most of any consistently booked performance hall on Broadway. The structure is built in an Art Nouveau style and has a delightfully modern feel compared to its predecessors. It also boasts escalators, concessions, and large restrooms for its guests, all of which are easily accessible. One of the most unique aspects of the playhouse is its set design and safety precautions - the lead designer, Ralph Alswang, implemented a flexible stage floor that can be adapted for varying productions and the asbestos curtain was replaced with a water curtain to prevent the risk of fire. The building was renamed in 1983 to honor George Gershwin, a pioneering composer, writer, and conductor.
The theatre's first production opened on November 28, 1972, with the rock musical Via Galactica. Unfortunately for the planners, the big-budget special effects weren't enough to save a weak script, and the show faltered after only 7 performances. Due to the immense size of the venue, the Gershwin went on to showcase large-scale musicals, ballet performances, and concerts and has cycled through an enormous array of talent over the years.
One of the theatre's early successes took place in 1977 when it hosted a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I, starring Yul Brenner and Constance Towers. The show enthralled audiences for 719 performances and became the hall's longest-running show up to that point. Productions such as Annie, My Fair Lady, Singin' in the Rain, and Show Boat brought the theatre great success, but the venue's greatest accomplishment is still playing at the theatre. Wicked, written by Stephen Schwartz, has become one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history with more than 3,000 performances to its credit. The prequel to the "Wizard of Oz " follows the early life of the Wicked Witch of the West and continues to sell out nearly every performance at the Gershwin.
Fans of musicals have long been enamored with the potential of the Gershwin. Its modern look and versatile set design make it one of the premiere playhouses in New York City.