Gerald Schoenfeld Theater

234 W 45th St New York

LGBT Theater District/Gerald Schoenfeld Theater
NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Written By NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community in New York City, illustrating the richness of the city's history and the community's influence on America.

History

This venue was originally known as the Plymouth Theater. The biggest hits with LGBT associations at the Plymouth were The Odd Couple (1965-66) and Plaza Suite (1968-70), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, the former winning the Best Scenic Design Tony Award; Equus (1974-76) by Peter Shaffer (Best Play Tony Award), with actors Roberta Maxwell and Anthony Perkins (in a replacement role); Godspell (1976-77, opened at the Broadhurst Theater) by John-Michael Tebelak; and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1979-81, opened at the Longacre Theater), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, and with Nell Carter (Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Award) and Andre De Shields. Other big hits here included Once in a Lifetime (1931, opened at the Music Box Theater) with Spring Byington; Dial “M” for Murder (1952-54) with Maurice Evans; The Marriage-Go-Round (1958-60) with Claudette Colbert; Burn This (1987-88) by Lanford Wilson, directed by Marshall W. Mason, and with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; and The Heidi Chronicles (1989-90) with Cynthia Nixon.

Plays by LGBT creators at the Plymouth also included Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1921-22) and A Royal Fandango (1923) by Zoe Akins, the latter with actor Spencer Tracy; The Channel Road (1929) by Alexander Woollcott and George S. Kaufman, and with actor Edmund Lowe; Susan and God (1937-38) by Rachel Crothers; Solitaire (1942) by John Van Druten; The Skin of Our Teeth (1942-43) by Thornton Wilder (Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and with actors Tallulah Bankhead and Montgomery Clift; The Ryan Girl (1945) by Edmund Goulding, and with actor Edmund Lowe; Obsession (1946), with costume design by Adrian; Present Laughter (1946-47) by Noel Coward, and with actors Clifton Webb and Cris Alexander; The Eagle Has Two Heads (1947) by Jean Cocteau, and with actor Tallulah Bankhead; Private Lives (revival, 1948-49) by Noel Coward, and with actor Tallulah Bankhead; Three Wishes for Jamie (1952, opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater), with costume design by Miles White; Tiger at the Gates (1955), with scenic and costume design by Loudon Sainthill, and with actor Michael Redgrave; The Apple Cart (revival, 1956-57), with scenic and lighting design by Robert O’Hearn, and with actor Maurice Evans; Dylan (1964), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Alec Guinness (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award); Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (1964-65) and The Star-Spangled Girl (1966-67), with scenic design by Oliver Smith, the former with actor George Rose and the latter with actor Anthony Perkins; Everything in the Garden (1967-68) by Edward Albee, with scenic and costume design by William Ritman; Twigs (1972, opened at the Broadhurst Theater) by George Furth; The Water Engine/ Mr. Happiness (1978), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (1985-86) by Jane Wagner, and with actor Lily Tomlin (Best Actress in a Play Tony Award); Passion (1994-95), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Best Musical and Best Original Score Tony Awards); and A Delicate Balance (revival, 1996) by Edward Albee (Best Revival of a Play Tony Award), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty, and with actor George Grizzard (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award).

LGBT performers at the Plymouth included Alla Nazimova, the most famous interpreter of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen of her day, in productions of The Wild Duck (1918), Hedda Gabler (revival, 1918) and A Doll’s House (revival, 1918); Laurette Taylor in In a Garden (1925-26); Barbara Stanwyck in the role that established her as a star in Burlesque (1927-28); Tallulah Bankhead in Dark Victory (1934); Katharine Cornell in Lovers and Friends (1943-44); Spencer Tracy in The Rugged Path (1945-46); Mary Martin in Lute Song (1946); Agnes Moorehead and Charles Laughton in Don Juan in Hell (1952); Graham Chapman in Cambridge Circus (1964); Roger Rees (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award) in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1981-82); and James Coco in You Can’t Take It With You (revival, 1983).

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Building Information

Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp Year Built: 1917-18

Sources

“The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013. Adam Hetrick, “The Work of Broadway’s Gay and Lesbian Artistic Community Goes on Display Nov. 14 When the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery Presents ‘StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design’,” Playbill, Nov. 14, 2007. Internet Broadway Database. Plymouth Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).

Cover Photo

Credit: Sarah Sargent/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2019.

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