New Amsterdam Theater

New Amsterdam Theatre 214 West 42nd Street New York

Theater History in Times Square/New Amsterdam Theater
Times Square Alliance
Written By Times Square Alliance

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The New Amsterdam is among Broadway's oldest surviving legitimate theaters. Commissioned in 1902 by theater moguls Marc Klaw and Abraham Erlanger and designed by architects Henry B. Herts and Hugh Tallant, this landmark space boasts a beaux-arts entrance and a magnificent art nouveau interior of painted plaster, carved stone, fine wood, murals, and tiles.

The New Amsterdam opened with a performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," selected by Klaw and Erlanger to evoke the ethereal magic of the theater. From 1913 through 1927, the theater and its rooftop stage were home to various incarnations of Florenz Ziegfield's famous Follies.

60-Year Hiatus

The New Amsterdam, like many of its contemporaries, was hit hard by the Great Depression, and was converted into a movie house in 1937. The space continued a gradual descent into decay and disuse until it was purchased by New York State in 1992. The building was subsequently purchased and restored to art nouveau glory by the Walt Disney Company.

Conquered by a King

After a 60-year hiatus, the New Amsterdam reopened in 1997 as a legitimate theater venue. In 1998, a celebrated long-running production of "The Lion King" opened in the space, garnering Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Director (Julie Taymor), and Best Choreography (Garth Fagan).

Julie Taymor

It can be said that Julie Taymor was responsible for a creative innovation yet unmatched in the theater today. "The Lion King,"​ based on the Disney movie, opened to excited audiences. Taymor's half-puppet/half-human costumes make the show a one-of-a-kind spectacle and give the viewer a glimpse into the imagination of a Broadway pioneer.

Cover photo credit: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia

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Theater History in Times Square

New Amsterdam Theater

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