Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

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Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Biltmore Theatre
Biltmore Theatre NYC 2007.jpg
The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Address 261 West 47th Street
New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°45′37″N 73°59′12″W / 40.76035°N 73.98677°W / 40.76035; -73.98677
Owner Manhattan Theatre Club
Type Broadway theatre
Capacity 650
Production Airline Highway
Architect Herbert J. Krapp
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Built December 7, 1925
Architect Herbert J. Krapp
NRHP Reference # 04001203[1]
Added to NRHP 2004

The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (formerly the Biltmore Theatre) is a Broadway theatre located at 261 West 47th Street in midtown-Manhattan.


Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp for impresario Irwin Chanin, it opened on December 7, 1925 with the play Easy Come Easy Go. With a seating capacity of 903, it was one of Broadway's smaller venues.

The theatre was used by Federal Theatre's Living Newspaper project in the 1930s. CBS leased it for use as a radio and television studio from 1952 until 1961. In 1968, the groundbreaking rock musical Hair opened at the theatre.

In 1987, a fire struck the Biltmore. The blaze, which was later determined to be an act of arson, destroyed the interior. After the fire, the building sat vacant for fourteen years, suffering more structural damage from water and vandals. The theatre's ownership changed hands several times between 1987 and 2001, but most plans proposed for its future use - such as a showcase for "Best of Broadway" revues - were rejected since its New York City landmark designation required it to operate only as a legitimate Broadway house if renovated.

In 2001, the property was purchased by the Manhattan Theatre Club as a permanent home for its productions. Surviving sections of the original theatre were restored by Polshek Partnership Architects (plasterwork restored by EverGreene Architectural Arts), and missing parts were reconstructed. With 622 seats the new Biltmore has about two-thirds of the capacity of the old, although it now boasts modern conveniences such as elevators and meeting rooms. The Biltmore's landmarked features, such as the proscenium arch, dome, staircases and a vaulted second-floor gallery, were restored or replicated.[2]

For the renovation of the Biltmore Theater, under floor air displacement was used. The benefits of this system include energy efficiency, superior indoor air quality, lowest noise levels of all other mechanical systems, and best thermal comfort. Biltmore is the first theater in New York City with under floor air displacement.

The theatre was renamed the "Samuel J. Friedman Theatre" in a dedication ceremony held on September 4, 2008. The new name honors Broadway publicist Samuel J. Friedman.[3]

Biltmore Theatre in media[edit]

In 1983, the Biltmore Theatre can be seen in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

Notable productions[edit]


  • Lost Broadway Theatres by Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, Princeton Architectural Press (1997) ISBN 1-56898-116-3
  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ DAvid Dunlap (September 23, 2003). "For Venerable Theater, It's a Body Transplant". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-02. Time was when the Biltmore reminded people of Hair, Barefoot in the Park, My Sister Eileen and Deathtrap; of George Abbott, a co-owner who used it as a showcase; Jean-Paul Sartre, whose No Exit was staged there; and Mae West, whose Pleasure Man brought in the police. 
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Broadway's Biltmore Becomes the Friedman on Sept. 4",, September 4, 2008
  4. ^ "Raid Mae West Play, Seize 56 At Opening. Police Arrest Entire Cast of "Pleasure Man" After Last Act at Biltmore Theatre. Indecency Is Charged. Law Hits Actress-Author a Second Time. Playhouse Is Surrounded After Show. No Theatre Attaches Held. Police Guard Exits. Arrest Order Treated Lightly. Author Freed on Bail. 21 Seized in Raid on "Sex"". New York Times. October 2, 1928. Retrieved 2011-05-02. The entire cast of "Pleasure Man," fifty-five actors, actresses and musicians, was arrested on the stage of the Biltmore Theatre, Forty-seventh Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, last night immediately after the curtain fell on the first performance. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′37″N 73°59′12″W / 40.76035°N 73.98677°W / 40.76035; -73.98677