Winter Garden Theater


The Winter Garden Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 1634 Broadway in midtown-Manhattan.

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In 1911 the Shuberts leased the building and Architect William Albert Swasey redesigned the building as a theatre. Winter Garden Theater is the fourth New York City venue to be christened the Winter Garden, it opened on March 10, 1911, with the early Jerome Kern musical La Belle Paree. The show starred Al Jolson and launched him on his highly successful singing and acting career. He played the Winter Garden many times after that.
The Winter Garden was completely remodeled in 1922 by Herbert J. Krapp. The large stage is wider than those in most Broadway houses, and the proscenium arch is relatively low. The building is situated uniquely on its lot, with the main entrance and marquee, located on Broadway, connected to the 1526-seat Seventh Avenue auditorium via a long hallway, and the rear wall of the stage abutting 50th Street. When Al Jolson performed there, the Winter Garden had a runway built, going out into the audience, and Jolson would run out and slide on his knees while singing, and the audience, not used to such dynamic and close-up showmanship from a performer, would go wild.
The Winter Garden Theatre's longest tenant was Cats, which opened on October 7, 1982 and ran 7,485 performances spanning nearly nineteen years. The Winter Garden Theater auditorium had been gutted to accommodate the show's junkyard setting, and after its closing architect Francesca Russo supervised its restoration, returning it to its 1920s appearance.
In the Winter Garden Theater early days, the theatre frequently hosted series of revues presented under the umbrella titles The Passing Show, Artists and Models, and The Greenwich Village Follies. Following the 1932 death of Florenz Ziegfeld, the Shuberts acquired the rights to the name and format of his famed Ziegfeld Follies, and they presented the 1934 and 1936 editions of the Follies featuring performers such as Fanny Brice, Bob Hope, Josephine Baker, Gypsy Rose Lee, Eve Arden, The Nicholas Brothers, and Buddy Ebsen. Winter Garden Theater served as a Warner Bros. movie house from 1928 to 1933 and a United Artists cinema in 1945, but aside from these interruptions has operated as a legitimate theatre since it opened. Due to the size of its auditorium, stage, and backstage facilities, it is a house favored for large musical productions.
Winter Garden Theater was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt in 1896 to be the American Horse Exchange.
In 2002, under an agreement between the Shubert Organization, which owns the theatre, and General Motors, Winter Garden Theater was renamed the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre. At the beginning of 2007, the corporation's sponsorship ended and the venue returned to its original name.

Famous past Winter Garden Theater productions:
1916: Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
1918: Sinbad
1934: Life Begins at 8:40
1935: At Home Abroad
1937: Hooray for What!
1938: Hellzapoppin
1944: Mexican Hayride
1948: As the Girls Go
1950: Alive and Kicking
1951: Top Banana; Make a Wish
1953: Wonderful Town
1954: Peter Pan
1955: Plain and Fancy
1956: Bus Stop; Shangri-La
1957: West Side Story
1959: Saratoga; Juno
1960: Once Upon a Mattress; The Unsinkable Molly Brown
1962: Carnival!; All American
1963: Tovarich; The Lady of the Camellias
1964: Funny Girl
1966: Mame
1970: Georgy; Purlie
1971: Follies
1972: Much Ado About Nothing
1974: Gypsy; Ulysses in Nighttown
1976: Pacific Overtures; Fiddler on the Roof
1977: Beatlemania
1979: Zoot Suit; Gilda Radner - Live from New York
1980: 42nd Street
1981: Camelot
1982: Othello (Jan 1982-May 1982)
1982: Cats (Sep 1982-Sep 2000)
2001: Mamma Mia!