Thursday, January 22, 2009

NYTimes: Tucked away behind Madame Tussaud's is the dusty, cavernous Liberty Theater. The Liberty, which had more than 1,000 seats, was once a center of American musical theater. Designed by Herts & Tallant in 1904, the architects of the New Amsterdam Theater on the same block, it introduced shows by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and the Gershwins. The second show produced there was George M. Cohan's ''Little Johnny Jones,'' whose songs included ''The Yankee Doodle Boy'' and ''Give My Regards to Broadway.'' 

Photo by Shaun Crossman 

The Liberty ceased being a home for Broadway shows in the 1930's, when it was converted into a movie theater. In the 90s British director Deborah Warner brought audiences to the Liberty, taking advantage of its crumbling aesthetic for her 1996 production of ''The Waste Land.” ''This is a potential scandal,'' Ms. Warner said. ''[New Yorkers] are very bad. ''Your lack of preservation is outrageous. You will kick yourself in 10 years. We need these theaters for our souls.''

TODAY

 ''New York has a real theater shortage,'' she said. ''There's not enough large-scale Off Broadway houses, so when we come to town, we have to go to BAM, the real national theater of your country. The Liberty should be a theater run by a nonprofit. I would like to run it.'' She paused before adding, ''You certainly don't need another nightclub.'' 

10 comments:

altadenahiker said...

Someone needs a soul transplant.

Jackie said...

A lot of our old theatres have been turned into concert venues, and preserved the outside of the building and lots of details. How sad to see that building gone.

Tanya said...

What a shame....

Steve Buser said...

New Orleans has some real old gradiose theaters that have been shuttered for years. But it seems some tax incentives may change that in the near future.

-K- said...

Hi Ken - I added a few details to my "Old Man, Abandoned Building."

CoyoteFe said...

have a soft place in my heart for old theaters (not the seats, mind you!).

Cimba7200 said...

'We need these theaters for our souls.'.... Yes, I think she's right. After all much of the world's musical shows originated in the USA, and problably here? - Dave

Daryl said...

The renovation - Disneyfacation - of Times Sq caused the loss of not just theatres but also some amazing old architecture in the other buildings razed for the glass facade skyscrapers (including the one I work in) .... however the Bank America Tower which spans 42-43 Sts has on its 43 St side retained the facade of Henry Miller's Theatre (last show to play there was Urinetown)incorporating it into new bldg. A classy touch!

Kitty said...

I enjoy seeing these old photos of New York!

livvie said...

what is this mall masquerading as new york city?