Times Square Theater

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Times Square Theater
Theater building facade with colonnade spanning second and third stories and marquee and entrance on the left for two theaters.
Times Square Theater, with entrance to Apollo Theater (left), 1922
Address 217 West 42nd Street
New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°45′24″N 73°59′16″W / 40.756569°N 73.987783°W / 40.756569; -73.987783Coordinates: 40°45′24″N 73°59′16″W / 40.756569°N 73.987783°W / 40.756569; -73.987783
Owner City and State of New York
Type Broadway
Capacity 1,032
Opened September 30, 1920
Years active 1920–1934
Architect Eugene De Rosa
New 42nd Street

The Times Square Theater is a former Broadway theater, located at 217 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, in New York City.


The Times Square Theater was built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers to a design by Eugene De Rosa.[1] It was one of three theaters they built and controlled on 42nd Street, including the Apollo and the Selwyn. It opened on September 30, 1920, with Florence Reed starring in The Mirage.[2][3][4][5]

In 1921, G.K. Chesterton spoke in the Times Square Theater on the fallacy of fatalism in human affairs.[6]

Battling Butler, the basis for the Buster Keaton film of the same name, transferred from the Selwyn to the Times Square in 1924. Notable shows presented at the Times Square included the original New York productions of George and Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band in 1930 and Noël Coward's Private Lives in 1931. Lawrence Olivier appeared at the Times Square Theater in 1931.[7]

Only three years after Private Lives, the Times Square was converted to a cinema. It would remain in operation as a movie theater until the early 1990s, when it was closed.

The final scene of the 1980 motion picture Times Square was filmed at the Times Square Theater, with Robin Johnson's character performing a "midnight concert" atop the theater's marquee.

The City and State of New York took possession of the Times Square Theater in 1990. In 1992, it was one of six 42nd Street theaters to come under the protection of the New 42nd Street organization. It was not immediately restored or renovated, as the theater lacks any entrances not directly on 42nd Street, rendering more difficult to use for loading of scenery and props.[8]

In 1998, three months after agreeing to redevelop the shuttered Times Square Theater as a 500-seat theater, Canadian production company Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada, Inc. dropped the project saying that it no longer seemed a prudent investment.[9][10] The theater also had near-deals for redevelopment by MTV and Marvel Mania that were not completed.[11][12]

In 2005, the Times Square Theater was leased to Ecko Unlimited, which planned to make it a supermarket for clothing and other urban youth market items.[13] In 2009, the company walked away from its lease.[14]

In 2012, a long term lease was signed to make the theater home to a "4D" film presentation called Broadway Sensation, dedicated to the history of Broadway and to be directed by Bryan Singer. The presentation was to be produced by lawyer Robert Kory and producer/director Gary Goddard. The theater will be renovated as part of the preparation; many interior elements of the theater are landmarked, and must be preserved. The attraction was expected to open in spring 2015.[15] However, on May 28, 2014, it was reported that the "4D" presentation of "Broadway Sensation" had been canceled owing to financial troubles.[16]


  1. ^ Building age and national builder, vol. 47, issues 7–12 (1925), p. 82
  2. ^ Woollcott, Alexander (October 1, 1920) "The Play" The New York Times
  3. ^ "The Week's New Plays" The New York Times (September 26, 1920) (photo of Florence Reed)
  4. ^ Ken Bloom (2004). Broadway: Its History, People, and Places: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  5. ^ James Trager (2010). The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People, and and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present. HarperCollins. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Shows Fallacy of Fatalism". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1921. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Robert P. McNamara. Sex, Scams, and Street Life: The Sociology of New York City's Times Square. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Interview with New 42nd Street president Cora Cahan on Times Square Theater
  9. ^ Andy Newman (November 5, 1998). "Livent Drops Times Square Theater Plans". New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ David M. Halbfinger (June 26, 1997). "Concerts Considered for Times Sq. Theater". New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ Charles V. Bagli (February 8, 1999). "As Rents Soar, Boom Is Slowed in Times Square". New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Edward, Daniel (June 19, 2012). "All the Twists and Turns Behind Times Square Theater, Last Week’s Most Creative Deal of the Year Winner". The Commercial Observer. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn (January 23, 2005). "Square Feet/Times Square – A Crossroads for Restaurants". Times Square and 42nd Street (NYC); New York City: New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (February 17, 2009). "This 'Ecko' Sounds Like A Lawsuit". New York Post. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Kenneth Jones (March 21, 2012). "Broadway's Times Square Theater Will Be Renovated for Broadway Sensation Film Show". playbill.com. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ Ryan McPhee (May 28, 2014). "Broadway 4D Cancels Planned Times Square Attraction Featuring Filmed Broadway Performances". broadway.com. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  • Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture, William Morrison, 1999, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-40244-4
  • Lost Broadway Theatres, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, Princeton Architectural Press, 1997, ISBN 1-56898-116-3

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