Times Square Theater
Times Square Theater, with entrance to Apollo Theater (left), 1922
|Address||217 West 42nd Street|
New York City
|Owner||City and State of New York|
|Opened||September 30, 1920|
|Architect||Eugene De Rosa|
|New 42nd Street|
The Times Square Theater was built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers from a design by Eugene De Rosa. It was one of three theaters they built and controlled on 42nd Street, including the Apollo and the Selwyn. It opened on September 30, 1920, with Florence Reed starring in The Mirage.
Battling Butler, the basis for the Buster Keaton film of the same name, transferred from the Selwyn to the Times Square in 1924. Notable shows presented at the Times Square included the original New York productions of The Front Page by Hecht and MacArthur in 1928, George and Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band in 1930 and Noël Coward's Private Lives starring Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in 1931.
Only three years after Private Lives, the Times Square was converted to a cinema. It would remain in operation as a movie theater until the early 1990s, when it closed. The final scene of the 1980 motion picture Times Square was filmed at the Times Square Theater, with Robin Johnson's character performing a "midnight concert" atop the theater's marquee.
The City and State of New York took possession of the Times Square Theater in 1990. In 1992, it was one of six 42nd Street theaters to come under the protection of the New 42nd Street organization. It was not immediately restored or renovated, as the theater lacks any entrances not directly on 42nd Street, rendering it more difficult to use for loading of scenery and props.
Since 1992, the theater has been the focus of a number of development proposals that were later abandoned. Canadian production company Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada briefly considered a redevelopment project in 1998. MTV and Marvel Mania also considered redeveloping the property.
In 2012, a group called Broadway 4D Theaters, LLC signed a long term lease to make the theater home to a "4D" film presentation called Broadway Sensation, dedicated to the history of Broadway. The presentation was to be produced by lawyer Robert Kory and producer/director Gary Goddard and the theater renovated to house it. The attraction was expected to open in spring 2015, however on May 28, 2014 it was reported that the project had been canceled due to financial troubles. In August 2015, Elie Samaha and Donald Kushner announced they purchased the assets of Broadway 4D Theaters and would continue the project.
In March 2015, the New York Post reported that the British-based Ambassador Theatre Group, which controls the adjacent Lyric Theatre, was in negotiations to take over management of the building, converting it back into a Broadway theater after completing renovations. Later, in 2016, the Post reported speculation that Oracle Projects International of Singapore was interested in the theater as a space for special events. In fall 2018, developers announced the venue would be converted to retail space that would retain the proscenium, boxes, and many elements from the original structure. The work would take approximately two years at a cost of $100 million.
- Building Age and National Builder Vol. 47, Nos. 7—12 (1925), p. 82.
- "Times Square and Apollo Theatres". Architecture and Building Vol. 52, No. 12 (December 1920), pp. 104-5. Online at Google Books.
- Woollcott, Alexander (October 1, 1920). "The Play". The New York Times.
- "The Week's New Plays". The New York Times (September 26, 1920) (photo of Florence Reed).
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- McPhee, Ryan (May 28, 2014). "Broadway 4D Cancels Planned Times Square Attraction Featuring Filmed Broadway Performances". Broadway.com. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- Viagas, Robert; Gioia, Michael (August 18, 2015). "Broadway 4D Project Back on Track; Times Square Theatre To Be Rescued!". Playbill.
- Riedel, Michael (March 11, 2015). "Broadway's newest landlord is a colorful, 'Mormon'-loving Brit". New York Post.
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- Hershberg, Marc (September 18, 2018). "Jinxed Times Square Theater to Reopen as Retail Space". Forbes. Retrieved September 20, 2018.