Théâtre à l'italienne
George H. Broadhurst, the Anglo-American manager and playwright (1866-1952), built his eponymous theatre in association with the Shubert brothers. Broadhurst had previously managed theatres in Milwaukee, Baltimore, and San Francisco (and written many popular plays). The playhouse has remained one of the Shubert Organization’s most consistently booked theatres.
The Broadhurst's innaugural production was George Bernard Shaw’s Misalliance on September 27, 1917. Eva Le Gallienne’s long association with the theatre began later that year with a revival of Lord and Lady Algy (1917). George Broadhurst’s first play in his namesake theatre was He Didn’t Want to Do It (1918). His adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes premiered a few years later in 1921.
Other productions of the 1920s and 1930s include the Jeanne Eagels vehicle, The Wonderful Thing (1920), George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly’s successful comedy Beggar on Horseback (1924), the scandalizing The Green Hat (1925) starring Leslie Howard and Katharine Cornell, George Abbott’s Broadway (1926), the musical Hold Everything (1928) featuring Bert Lahr, and Helen Hayes in Victoria Regina (1935). The Group Theatre, innovators of American acting technique, premiered Men in White in 1933, directed by Lee Strasberg and starring Luther Adler, Sanford Meisner, Morris Carnovsky, Elia Kazan, and Clifford Odets. Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard appeared in The Petrified Forest (1935), and Bogart’s role in the subsequent film version launched his movie career. Two musicals closed out the decade: Mike Todd’s swing version of The Hot Mikado (1939) with the legendary Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and the hit revue Streets of Paris (1939).
Among the notable hits of the 1940s and 50s were Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (1944), Anita Loos’s Happy Birthday (1946) with Helen Hayes, a revival of Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey (1952), The World of Suzie Wong (1958) starring France Nuyen and William Shatner, Auntie Mame (1956) featuring Rosalind Russell, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fiorello! (1959).
In the 1960s and 70s, the Broadhurst welcomed many legends. Elaine Stritch appeared in Noel Coward’s Sail Away (1961), Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret premiered in 1966 (followed by their Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1993 starring Chita Rivera), and in 1969 Woody Allen starred in his Play It Again, Sam alongside Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Neil Simon’s reign at the Broadhurst began in 1972 with The Sunshine Boys, which was followed by Broadway Bound (1986) and Rumors (1988). Other prominent shows were 110 In the Shade (1963), George Furth’s Twigs (1971) with Sada Thompson, A Matter of Gravity (1976) starring Katharine Hepburn, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (1980) featuring Ian McKellan, Tim Curry and Jane Seymour, and The Tap Dance Kid (1983). Two Bob Fosse dance revues graced the stage of the Broadhurst: Dancin’ (1979) and Fosse (1999).
Most recently, the Broadhurst welcomed a revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods (2002), Billy Crystal’s one-man show 700 Sundays (2004), the Tony Award winning best play The History Boys (2006), and revivals of Les Miserables (2006), Equus (2008) starring Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths, and Hamlet (2009) starring Jude Law.
Mirror images of each other, the Broadhurst and the neighboring Plymouth Theatre, which opened within two weeks of eachother, were the brainchild of architect Herbert J. Krapp, and were his first independent commissions. While the two playhouses are nearly identical on the outside, the Broadhurst's interior employs Doric columns, and Greek-style cornices and friezes. Its spare exterior is decorated with brickwork, enhanced by touches of stone and terra-cotta trim.