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Winter Garden Theatre

Broadway (between 50th and 51st Street)

2 hours and 30 mins with one intermission

October 18th, 2001 (Open-Ended)

Broadway Musical (Comedy)

History :: Now Playing :: Schedule :: Reviews

Winter Garden Theatre History

The Winter Garden traces its origins to the American Horse Exchange (1885). With the decline of the horse as a means of transportation and the transformation of Times Square into the city’s new entertainment district, the building was converted into a theatre, café, and restaurant. Al Jolson made his Broadway debut at the theatre in 1911 and performed there regularly until 1925, when he left for Hollywood. Another mainstay of the Winter Garden was the Shuberts’ revue, “The Passing Show” (1912-1924). Three of Olsen and Johnson’s madcap hit comedies, including “Hellzapoppin” (1938), also played at the theatre.

The Winter Garden was sometimes used as a motion picture palace (1928-33; 1945-48). Since 1950, however, musical comedies -- most of them long-running hits -- have dominated the Garden’s bill. A short list includes “Wonderful Town” (1953), “West Side Story” (1957), “Funny Girl” (1964), and “42nd Street” (1980), The auditorium was renovated in 1980, but in two years the new décor was covered over by the expansive scenery for “Cats,” the longest-running show in history.

The theatre has a 1482 seating capacity and the stage type is Proscenium. The exterior of the building retains the basic lines of the old American Horse Exchange, except for the additions of a Georgian-inspired graystone front and a rootop cupola. The theatre’s interior was designed to recreate the ambiance of the outdoor roof gardens then popular on Broadway.

The theatre is wheelchair accessible, offers wheelchair seating and restrooms.

A pay phone and water fountain are located in the lobby. The theatre is air conditioned and offers assisted listening devices for the hard of hearing

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