Broadway theaters are the backbone of tourism in New York City, drawing in millions of show-goers from around the world each year. The city’s Theater District includes 41 theaters in midtown Manhattan that have a storied history of productions that influence the culture of New York City and the world.
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Rising stars begin on Broadway, and the world comes to see groundbreaking productions ranging from classics like The Phantom of the Opera to modern musicals. Broadway theaters also add remarkable architecture to the city, with iconic theaters in styles ranging from Art Nouveau to Colonial Revival.
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But What Exactly Is a Broadway Theater?
The term Broadway theater refers to large venues that seat at least 500 people and are located in Midtown Manhattan on the street called Broadway. The heart of the Broadway Theater District begins in Times Square at 41st Street and Broadway and stretches up Broadway to 54th Street. North of this main district, the expansive Lincoln Center also includes Broadway theaters on the Upper West Side, along Broadway.
In this guide to Broadway theaters, we’ll go over the historic milestones and architectural wonders of New York City’s most noteworthy Broadway theaters.
Lyceum TheatreBroadway Show in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
The Lyceum Theater is one of the oldest Broadway theaters, dating back to 1903. The historic building at 149 West 45th Street has a beautiful Beaux Arts style facade, which is designated a New York City Landmark. The majestic theater boasts a colonnade with three arched windows and elegant detailing reminiscent of Roman art. Inside the Lyceum, the lobby features a vaulted domed ceiling, murals, and an auditorium with a Beaux-Arts-style proscenium arch, carved ornament, and a detailed ceiling.
Throughout its long history, the Lyceum has hosted many legendary actors and actresses, including Bette Davis, Judy Holliday, Joseph Cotton, John Garfield, Montgomery Clift, Ruth Gordon, Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Billy Dee Williams, Helen Hayes, Rosemary Harris, and Whoopi Goldberg. The Lyceum seats 922 people across three levels.
New Amsterdam TheatreTheatre in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
The New Amsterdam Theater stands at 214 West 42nd Street at the southern end of Times Square. The iconic Beaux-Arts style building is a cornerstone of the Theater District and one of the earliest theaters on Broadway, dating back to 1902. The elegant exterior of the theater includes gray limestone, red brick, and a triple-height segmented arch. An 11-story office tower rises above the theater and is connected by a passageway at the ground level.
Inside the historic theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, an Art Nouveau style offers exquisite detailing, with marble panels, mirrored panels, and 12 terracotta panels, which form a frieze. The lobby pays homage to great playwrights in history, with scenes from Shakespeare plays on the eastern wall, scenes from Richard Wagner’s operas on the western wall, a scene from Faust over the north entrance, and a Greek drama over the doorway to the auditorium foyer on the south.
The New Amsterdam Theater is an architectural marvel and holds an important place in the history of Broadway. The theater was once home to the Ziegfeld Follies, a lavish musical production with a risqué nightclub on the roof. Today the New Amsterdam hosts large-scale Disney productions and has 1,702 seats across three levels.
Majestic TheatreTheatre in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
One of the most storied Broadway theaters is the Majestic Theater, which has hosted iconic productions over the years. The theater at 245 West 44th Street has an elegant Spanish-style facade, with golden brick, terracotta, and stone, and includes 1,681 seats across two levels. The Majestic is designated as a New York City Landmark.
The iconic Majestic Theater’s claim to fame is housing The Phantom of the Opera since 1988, making it the longest-running production in Broadway history. Some additional famous productions that have premiered at the theater include The Music Man, Carousel, South Pacific, Camelot, A Late Night Music, and The Wiz.
Shubert TheatreTheatre in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
The Shubert Theater, located at 225 West 44th Street, is a legendary Broadway theater constructed in an Italian Renaissance style. The grand 1,502-seat theater opened its doors in 1913. The building’s facade is made of brick, terracotta, and sgraffito (plaster frescoes created by etching plaster while it’s still wet) and is a New York City landmark. Inside the theater, mythological murals and elaborate plasterwork line the walls.
The Shubert Theater, named after the Shubert brothers who helped establish the Broadway Theater District, has hosted legendary stars and productions over the years. Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut at the Shubert in I Can Get It for You Wholesale in 1962 and the Shubert was the home to the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Spamalot (2005), a revival of Blithe Spirit (2009) with Angela Lansbury, Best Musical Memphis (2009), Matilda the Musical (2013) and the Tony Award-winning revival of Hello, Dolly! (2017) starring Bette Midler.
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