New York City Landmark Guide | Palace Theater

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Palace Theater



New York City Landmark Guide

Palace Theater

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Palace Theater

1564 Broadway
between 46th & 47th Streets

Completed 1913

Architect Kirchoff & Rose

A theater known mainly for its vaudeville and theatrical history, this is the Palace referred to in the line, 'We're goin' to New York to play the Palace!' The theater was built by California vaudeville entrepreneur and later Broadway impresario Martin Beck (the Martin Beck Theater), who aspired the Palace to be the 'Valhalla of Vaudeville.' It did reach the peak, but as the apogee of the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit; Beck had lost control of the theater to E F Albee before it opened. As the premier theater of the Keith-Albee circuit, the Palace ran 2 shows per day at $2 per show until the demise of vaudeville (that started with the rise in popularity of the movies; it took 20 years, but by 1930 vaudeville was basically dead). In 1929 the Palace went to 3 shows a day on Sunday and then, in 1932 increased the number of shows to 4 a day, every day, dropping the price to $1 per show -- and throwing in movie shorts to boot. By the end of 1932 the Palace was all film, all the time

In the '50s the then RKO-Keith chain hoped to ride the wave of live entertainment that had been earlier rejuvenated by Frank Sinatra and the bobby-soxers and continued with the five a day rock and roll shows at venues such as the Brooklyn Paramount. Judy Garland's show at the Palace was a success, many vaudeville-type acts weren't and the theater reverted to showing movies. After an extensive renovation the Palace reopened as a legitimate venue for musical comedy in 1966

1913 Every performance at the Palace this year was a debut, but notable among them were Ed Wynn, who headlined the opening on Mar 24th and Ethel Barrymore, appearing in the play Civilization on Aug 28th

1915 thru 1920 All of the well-known stars played the Palace: Bert and Bertie Wheeler, Weber and Fields, Harry Houdini, Ruth St Denis, Belle Baker, Fanny Brice ('I ain't got no more material. What do you want from my young Jewish life?'), George Rockwell, Sarah Bernhardt, Julian Eltinge, Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, Leon Errol, Helen Keller, Sophie Tucker, Blossom Seeley, Emma Carus and George Jessel (whew!)

1921 thru 1925 Fanny Brice is back, this time with a 4-week run; Lionel Atzwill bows, Jack Benny makes his Palace debut in 1924. Sophie Tucker is back, as are Weber and Fields. Florence Mills, Richard Bennet, Marie Dressler, May Irwin, Jack Haley also trod the boards. And, after 20 years away from the stage, Fay Templeton makes a Palace appearance in 1925

1926 thru 1930 Judith Anderson, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Laurette Taylor and Helen Morgan make their debuts in 1926; Molly Picon and Beatrice Lillie bow in 1928. Also in 1928, Fanny Brice is the first Palace performer to have her name in lights. Bob Hope and Ethel Merman debut in 1930. And during this time you could also see Will Mahoney, Ken Murray, Morgan and Mack, Ethel Waters, Buck and Bubbles, Frank Fay, a pre-film-noir Barbara Stanwyck, Ted Healey and His Stooges, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, Ted Lewis and Eddie Cantor (Cantor at $7,700 per week!!)

1931 Even with Kate Smith's amazing 11-week run and stars such as Morton Downey, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Burns and Allen, Sophie Tucker and William Demarest, the Palace cannot stave off the threat of movies for long. A little more than a year later, the Palace is a movie house

1966 If its friends could see it now they wouldn't believe it. The Palace is back as a legitimate venue with the opening of the Neil Simon-Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields musical Sweet Charity. Gwen Verdon stars and Bob Fosse's choreography earns him a Tony

1968 Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters star in George M! Choreographer Joe Layton gets a Tony

1970 Put your hands together for Applause. The Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Charles Strouse-Lee Adams-Ron Field musical stars Lauren Bacall. Bacall and Field earn Tonys, hers for best musical actress, his for direction and choreography

1974 Carol Channing stars in Lorelei, a musical by Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green that runs for 321 performances

1976 Huge theater. Big cast. Giant orchestra. Lavish sets. Yul Brynner. One performance. Home Sweet Home

1983 Gene Barry and George Hearn star in the Harvey Fierstein-Jerry Herman musical La Cage aux Folles. The show runs for 1,761 performances and earns Tonys for Hearn, Fierstein, Herman and director Arthur Laurents

1991 The Will Rogers Follies, with music by Cy Coleman-Betty Comden-Adolph Green, stars Keith Carradine. The show wins a Tony, Coleman-Comden-Green win and Tommy Tune wins two, for direction and choreography

1994 The Walt Disney people get onto Broadway with their children-of-all-ages musical Beauty and the Beast. The show runs at the Palace through September '99, re-opening at the Lunt-Fontanne that November

2000 The Linda Woolverton-Elton John-Tim Rice version of Aida opens in March and appears to be another in the line of long-running Disney family fare on Broadway 



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