Biltmore Theater


(Formerly the Biltmore Theatre) The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 261 West 47th Street in midtown-Manhattan.

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Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp for impresario Irwin Chanin, it opened on December 7, 1925 with the play Easy Come Easy Go. With a seating capacity of 903, it was one of Broadway's smaller venues.
The Samuel J. Friedman Theater was used by Federal Theatre's Living Newspaper project in the 1930s. CBS leased it for use as a radio and television studio from 1952 until 1961. In 1968, the groundbreaking rock musical Hair opened at the theatre.
In 1987, a fire struck the Biltmore. The blaze, which was later determined to be an act of arson, destroyed the interior. After the fire, the building sat vacant for fourteen years, suffering more structural damage from water and vandals. The Biltmore Theatre theatre's ownership changed hands several times between 1987 and 2001, but most plans proposed for its future use - such as a showcase for "Best of Broadway" revues - were rejected since its New York City landmark designation required it to operate only as a legitimate Broadway house if renovated.
In 2001, the Samuel J. Friedman Theater property was purchased by the Manhattan Theatre Club as a permanent home for its productions. Surviving sections of the original theatre were restored by Polshek Partnership Architects (plasterwork restored by EverGreene Architectural Arts), and missing parts were reconstructed. With 622 seats the new Biltmore has about two-thirds of the capacity of the old, although it now boasts modern conveniences such as elevators and meeting rooms. The Biltmore's landmarked features, such as the proscenium arch, dome, staircases and a vaulted second-floor gallery, were restored or replicated.
The theare was renamed the "Samuel J. Friedman Theatre" in a dedication ceremony held on September 4, 2008. The new name honors Broadway publicist Samuel Friedman.