Thursday, January 25, 2018

My First Show in Every Broadway Theater

A recent trend on Facebook is to list the first show you saw in every Broadway theater. I thought it would be easy for me, but my memory is not as razor sharp as it used to be. Plus I no longer keep all my Playbills in either chronological or alphabetical order. So I had to go online and actually do research. Internet Broadway Data Base (ibdb) which lists every show ever played in every theater, was most useful. Other sites only listed major long-running hits. It was fun and raised a lot of memories. Here's my list along with anecdotes and thoughts. 
Ambassador: DREAMGIRLS--a revival
American Airlines: THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER--This was the first production in the new AA Theater
Atkinson: THE DRESSER--on a trip to NYC while I was in college in Philly.
Robert Duvall, John Savage, and Kenneth McMillan
in David Mamet's American Buffalo
Barrymore: LILLIAN--Zoe Caldwell in a one-woman show as the playwright Lillian Hellman.
Beaumont: THE FRONT PAGE (John Lithgow, Richard Thomas)
Belasco: AMERICAN BUFFALO (w/Robert Duvall)--I was in high school and my family took a trip to NYC for a weekend and I crammed in as many shows as possible. Duvall was brilliantly scary.
Bernard B. Jacobs (Royale): YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (Eddie Albert, Frances Sternhagen, Colleen Dewhurst, George Rose)--I got cheap seats from Audience Extras when I first moved to Gotham. This revival had been running a while. Eddie Albert had replaced Jason Robards as Grandpa.
Booth: GOOD--a British play about a well-meaning German who gradually becomes a high-ranking Nazi.
Broadhurst: LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey)

Broadway: LA BOHEME--Miss Saigon had been running at the Broadway for many years and I wasn't interested in it. So I was shocked to find I had not seen a show in this theater until Baz Luhrmann's extravagant production of Puccini's LA BOHEME in 2003 which I saw three times with all three pairs of leads because I was a Drama Desk nominator.
Circle in the Square: PRESENT LAUGHTER (with George C. Scott) A brilliant performance by Scott in the unlikely role of the flamboyant Garry Essendine in Noel Coward's frothy comedy. Seeing him inspired me to write his biography, Rage and Glory: The Volatile Life and Career of George C. Scott. I later saw the same play with Frank Langella, Victor Garber, and Kevin Kline, successively.
Cort: A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN (Kate Nelligan) The night before opening night and the understudy for Ian Bannen, the male lead, went on. Nelligan was hot after starring in Plenty, but she was miscast as Josie Hogan.
Criterion Center: MASTERGATE. A silly satire by Larry Gelbart.
Friedman/Biltmore: DOONESBURY. A musical based on the comic strip.
Gershwin (Then the Uris): SWEENEY TODD (original with Lansbury and Cariou) Absolutely amazing.
Golden: CRIMES OF THE HEART. I seem to recall seeing this while on a trip to New York. Beth Henley's quirky comedy about three Southern sisters won the Pulitzer Prize. I remember after the show, I saw Katharine Hepburn coming out of the theater across the street after she had finished doing THE WEST SIDE WALTZ. The crowd applauded, she waved, and got into her limo without signing any autographs.
Joanna Gleason, Bernadette Peters, and Chip Zien in
Into the Woods
Hayes: TORCH SONG TRILOGY. Harvey Fierstein had long since left. I saw this on Oscar night (because there were plenty of tickets) with Donald Corren or Jonathan Hadary as Arnold (not sure which)
Hirschfeld (Martin Beck): INTO THE WOODS (original)

Mark Hellinger (now a church): OLIVER! (with Patti LuPone and Ron Moody). My only time in the Hellinger, the home of the original My Fair Lady. The owners sold it to the Times Square Church not long after this revival closed prematurely. I sat in the balcony for less than $10 through Audience Extras. 
Ed Harris, Anthony Rapp,
and Judith Ivey in Precious Sons
Jack Lawrence Theater: THE GOLDEN AGE. I ushered at this short-lived theater. The play was a comedy by AR Gurney with Irene Worth, Stockard Channing and Jeff Daniels. It concerned a rare manuscript by F Scott Fitzgerald Worth's matriarch possessed and Daniels' academic coveted. Channing was Worth's shy niece who becomes romantically involved with Daniels.
Longacre: PRECIOUS SONS This is the show 14-year-old Anthony Rapp was in when he went to a party at Kevin Spacey's apartment and was allegedly sexually molested by the older actor who was in Long Day's Journey at the Broadhurst.
Lunt-Fontanne: RAISIN This was my first Broadway show. My younger brother's fifth-grade class was reading A Raisin in the Sun and they were going to NYC to see this musical version on the Wednesday matinee before it closed. I insisted on going along as a chaperone. Tony winner Virginia Capers was still playing the mother, but her understudy went on.
Lyceum: GROWN UPS Jules Feiffer's dark comedy with Bob Dishy, Frances Sternhagen and Harold Gould (Rhoda's father and Rose's boyfriend Miles)
Lyric (as Ford Center): RAGTIME
Majestic: 42ND STREET
Marquis: NICK AND NORA One of the biggest flops in Broadway history.
Minskoff: MARILYN Another flop. Long before the TV series Smash invented Bombshell, a fictional musical about Marilyn Monroe, this short-lived bomb played the Minskoff. I saw a preview for a few dollars. It wasn't that bad. I wonder if Bombshell will ever see the light of day.
Morosco (Torn down for the Marriott): THE SHADOW BOX. Same trip as American Buffalo.
Music Box: DEATHTRAP (w/John Cullum, Marian Seldes)
Nederlander: STRANGE INTERLUDE (w/Glenda Jackson)
New Apollo: BENT
New Amsterdam: THE LION KING
O'Neill: MONDAY AFTER THE MIRACLE A sequel to THE MIRACLE WORKER which was no miracle and quickly folded.
Palace: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES I sat in the last row of the balcony.
Rodgers (46th St. Theater): FENCES
Schoenfeld (as Plymouth): THE REAL THING
Sondheim (Henry Miller’s): CABARET
Studio 54: CABARET transfer (1997)
Wilson (Virginia): ALICE IN WONDERLAND (w/Eva LaGalliene, Kate Burton) Costumes were lovely, but the production was stiff. It worked much better as a TV special with Burton underplaying Alice, dropping the British accent she used in the show and the many guest stars including Burton's father Richard offering quirky interpretations of the Wonderland characters.
Winter Garden: PACIFIC OVERTURES (original production) I saw this dazzling visual feast during a trip for high-school journalists. I was co-editor of the newspaper. Along with two other students, and our faculty advisor, we stayed at the Taft Hotel. The teacher and I went to this show while the other two stayed at the hotel and watched TV. 

Kate Burton and Kaye Ballard
in the TV version of Alice in Wonderland
A scene from the original production of Pacific Overtures

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