Majestic Theater

245 W 44th St New York

LGBT Theater District/Majestic 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

The Majestic Theater was the venue for a number of iconic musicals with LGBT associations that were enormous hits: Carousel (1945-47 and 1949), with costume design by Miles White; South Pacific (1949-53), with Mary Martin (Best Actress Tony Award); The Music Man (1957-61), with costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; Camelot (1960-63), with scenic design by Oliver Smith (Best Scenic Design Tony Award), costume design by Adrian and Tony Duquette (Best Costume Design Tony Award), and actor Roddy McDowall; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1964, opened at the Alvin Theater), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Funny Girl (1966, opened at the Winter Garden Theater), with costume design by Irene Sharaff; Fiddler on the Roof (1967-70, opened at the Imperial Theater), directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins (Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography Tony Awards); The Wiz (1975-77), with Andre de Shields; and 42nd Street (1981-87; opened at the Winter Garden Theater), with Lee Roy Reams.

Other LGBT-associated big hits here, all musicals, were Mexican Hayride (1944-45; opened at the Winter Garden Theater), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter; Inside U.S.A. (1948-49, opened at the New Century Theater), with Beatrice Lilly and Jack Cassidy; Sugar (1972-73), with Cyril Ritchard; and A Little Night Music (1973-74; opened at the Shubert Theater) by Hugh Wheeler (Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical Tony Awards), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Best Original Score Tony Award), and costume design by Florence Klotz (Best Costume Design Tony Award).

Other productions at the Majestic by LGBT creators included Behold the Bridegroom (1928; opened at the Cort Theater) by George Kelly, with actor Judith Anderson; A Night in Venice (1929; opened at the Shubert Theater), with costume design by Erte, George Barbier, and Ernest Schrapps; A Wonderful Night (1929-30), with costume design by Orry Kelly and Ernest Schrapps, and with actor Archie Leach (who later changed his name to Cary Grant); Nina Rosa (1930-31), with costume design by Orry Kelly; Murder at the Vanities (1933-34; opened at the New Amsterdam Theater) by Earl Carroll and Rufus King; At Home Abroad (1936; opened at the Winter Garden Theater), staged by and scenic design by Vincente Minnelli, with actors Beatrice Lillie and Ethel Waters; On Your Toes (1936-37; opened at the Imperial Theater) by George Abbott, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Hart, and costume design by Irene Sharaff, and with actor Monty Woolley; Babes in Arms (1937, opened at the Shubert Theater) by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Hart; Three Waltzes (1937-38) by Rowland Leigh and Clare Kummer; Dream with Music (1944), with costume design by Miles White; Alice in Wonderland (1947, opened at the International Theater) by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus, and with Le Gallienne; Me and Juliet (1953-54), By the Beautiful Sea (1954), Happy Hunting (1956-57), and Jennie (1962), with costume design by Irene Sharaff, the latter with actor Mary Martin; Hot Spot (1963), with scenic and costume design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian; The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (1967), with costume design by Lewis Brown; Mack & Mabel (1974) by Michael Stewart, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and with actor James Mitchell; The Act (1977-78) by George Furth, with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, and costume design by Halston; First Monday in October (1978), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; Ballroom (1978-79), choreographed by Michael Bennett and Bob Avian (Best Choreography Tony Award); and I Remember Mama (1979), a musical based on the play by John Van Druten. One show that met with a hostile reception and only played nine performances, but later became a cult favorite, was Anyone Can Whistle (1964) by Arthur Laurents, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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LGBT performers at the Majestic included John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, and Richard Easton in The School for Scandal (revival, 1963), and Judy Holliday and George Furth in Hot Spot (1963).

Building Information

Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp Year Built: 1926-27

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. Majestic Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).

Cover Photo

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

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