Happy 105th Anniversary to one of Broadway’s most legendary houses…. The Palace Theatre (aka the MEGA house of Broadway). As Judy Garland said, YOU AIN’T NOTHIN’ TILL YOU PLAYED THE PALACE.
The 1,740 seat house was designed by architects Kirchoff & Rose and was funded by entrepreneur Martin Beck. It opened in 1913 and was mainly a home for Vaudeville acts (long before Broadway today had storytelling). It’s earliest acts include Guido Deiro, Ed Wynn (aka “Uncle Albert” from Mary Poppins), Ethel Barrymore, Will Rogers, The Marx Brothers, the real Fanny Brice, and much more.
However when the 1930’s Great Depression struck, more Film, TV, and Radio attracted audiences and the Palace Theatre became a movie house. While it was a movie theater, the Palace every once in a while continued to present revue and headlining acts.
However in 1949, the Palace began to bring Vaudeville back with their ALL STAR SHOWS. Several of it’s headliners include Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Ethel Merman, Betty Hutton, and most famously Judy Garland (as part of her triumphant comeback following her being fired from MGM Studios all thanks to her 3rd husband Sid Luft).
Then in 1965, The Nederlander Organization started taking over (and is still today) as the owner of the Palace. Today, the Palace Theatre has been a legitimate Broadway house presented spectacular, iconic, and beloved musicals including the original Sweet Charity (starring Gwen Verdon), George M! (starring Joel Grey), Applause and Woman of the Year (starring Lauren bacall), the first revival of Oklahoma, the original drag musical itself La Cage Broadway (starring George Hearn), and The Will Rogers Follies Musical.
In 1994, Disney made it’s first attempt at the Great White Way with their spectacular stage adaptation of the beloved animated film Beauty and the Beast. The production stayed at the Palace for 5 years (before moving to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre) to make room for another smash hit Disney musical (not based on a film) which was Elton John and Sir Tim Rice (Official)’s Aida – The Musical.
Some of the most previous shows that came included the short lived ELVIS PRESLEY jukebox musical All Shook Up, Elton John and Tim Rice’s short lived musical flop Lestat, Legally Blonde the Musical, Liza Minnelli’s Award winning solo show LIZA AT THE PALCE, the most recent revivals of West Side Story on Broadway and Annie, An American In Paris on Broadway, and most recently the English National Opera’s acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (starring Glenn Close).
The Palace Theatre today is currently home to the NAUTICAL NONSENSE smash hit SpongeBob Broadway.
In addition to it’s legendary history of shows, the Palace Theatre is considered to be one of the most haunted houses on the Great White Way. There are numerous ghosts that have been spotted including acrobat Louis Borsalino, a cellist in the pit, an audience member in a box seat, and even Judy Garland herself.
What shows have you seen in the Palace Theatre?!
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