44th Street Theatre

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The 44th Street Theatre was a Broadway theatre located at 216 West 44th Street in New York City from 1912 to 1945. It opened and operated for three years as the Weber and Fields' Music Hall. Its rooftop theatre, the Nora Bayes Theatre, presented many productions of the Federal Theatre Project in the mid 1930s. Its basement club became the famed Stage Door Canteen during World War II.

History[edit]

The 44th Street Theatre was located at 216 West 44th Street in New York City. The architect was William A. Swansea. Built by The Shubert Organization in 1912, it was first named Weber and Fields' Music Hall. The theatre was renamed in 1915 when the comedy duo of Joe Weber and Lew Fields split with the Shuberts.[1][2]

A theatre on the roof of the building, Lew Fields' 44th Street Roof Garden, became the Nora Bayes Theatre in 1918.[1][3] In the mid-1930s it presented Federal Theatre Project shows.[4]

In the basement of the 44th Street Theatre was a small nightclub, probably a speakeasy during Prohibition.[1][5]

In 1940 the building was purchased by The New York Times Company, which leased it back to Lee Shubert. When the American Theatre Wing requested the basement club as an entertainment venue for servicemen, Shubert gave them the property without charge. In March 1942 the 40-by-80-foot club space became the original Stage Door Canteen, which operated throughout World War II, became the subject of a popular film, and inspired other canteens throughout the United States.[6]

After Shubert's lease expired in June 1945, the building was demolished. The New York Times printing plant built to replace the 44th Street Theatre was later abandoned, but a plaque remains to mark the location of the Stage Door Canteen.[6]

Notable productions[edit]

Productions staged at the 44th Street Theatre are listed at the Internet Broadway Database.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "44th Street Theatre". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  2. ^ "Weber-Fields Partnership". The New York Times. July 25, 1912. Retrieved 2015-01-24. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "What the Summer Promises". The New York Times. May 11, 1919. Retrieved 2015-01-24. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Nora Bayes Theatre". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  5. ^ "Stage Door Canteen". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  6. ^ a b "A Question About Broadway's Historic Stage Door Canteen". Playbill.com. June 22, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-24.