Celebrate 100 Years of the Walter Kerr Theatre With André De Shields, Stephanie J. Block, More

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Celebrate 100 Years of the Walter Kerr Theatre With André De Shields, Stephanie J. Block, More

An interactive timeline highlights the Broadway venue’s historic milestones.

In celebration of the Walter Kerr Theatre’s 100th anniversary, Jujamcyn Theaters has released an interactive timeline filled with historic milestones and collected memories that took place at the storied Broadway venue. Check out a teaser above, featuring Tony winners André De Shields, Stephanie J. Block, Cherry Jones, Kenny Leon, Adriane Lenox, Anäis Mitchell, and more.

The timeline follows the venue’s production history from the earliest shows, musicals, and revues, through its times as a television and radio studio, brief spans as an adult film theatre and later a children’s theatre, and finally a Broadway house. In addition, digitized ephemera has been included, with old production photos, Playbill covers, sheet music, and press clippings all available to explore.

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Walter Kerr Theatre auditorium

Marc J. Franklin


Additional memory contributors include Crystal Dickinson, Tovah Feldshuh, Lewis Flinn, John Earl Jelks, Andrew Lippa, Omar Metwally, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jeremy Shamos, Jason Tam, and Frederick Weller.

BROADWAY CHECKLIST: Broadway Checklist: How Many of These Shows at the Walter Kerr Theatre Have You Seen?

Designed by Herbert J. Krapp and built in 1921 as the Ritz Theatre, it was renamed the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1990 after the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York theatre critic. The Kerr has been home to over 150 Broadway productions, including four plays by August Wilson, seven Tony winners for Best Play, and two Tony winners for Best Musical (including Hadestown, its current occupant, albeit now dark due to the pandemic).

“It is no coincidence that this 100th anniversary of the Walter Kerr is also the beginning of spring,” said Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters. “Hadestown affirms that however deep in our personal, communal, societal darkness we may feel, spring will indeed come again. As much as we have all lost in this past year, we can place ourselves in this long legacy and see that we are at a turning point, that we are the turning point.”

View the interactive timeline here. Audiences are invited to join the centennial celebration by sending Kerr memories either as short videos (under 3 minutes), photos, and/or short written statements to [email protected].

Step Inside Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre

Step Inside Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre

Inside the Theatre, the photo feature series that documents Broadway’s historic playhouses, continues with the Walter Kerr Theatre.

17 PHOTOS

Walter Kerr Theatre Marquee


First named The Ritz, the Walter Kerr Theatre was built by the Shuberts as the sister to the Ambassador Theatre in 1921.


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Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the theatre was created in an Italian Renaissance style, with its interiors adorned with gold leaf and Italian scrollwork.

Marc J. Franklin


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On March 21, 1921, the theatre opened with Clare Eames in John Drinkwater’s Mary Stuart, ushering in a flourishing decade as the home of many distinguished plays and players.

Marc J. Franklin


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Walter Kerr Theatre auditorium

Marc J. Franklin


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In 1939 the Ritz became the CBS Theatre No. 4, from which live radio shows were broadcast. It briefly returned to legitimacy from the end of 1942 but by the end of 1943, it resumed use as a radio and TV studio.

Marc J. Franklin


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It was not until December 1970 that the Ritz returned to legitimacy. It would later transition to Jujamcyn’s ownership in 1983.

Marc J. Franklin


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Walter Kerr Theatre auditorium

Marc J. Franklin


Walter_Kerr_Theatre_Walkthrough_2018_HR


Walter Kerr Theatre auditorium

Marc J. Franklin


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In 1990, the theatre was rechristened as the Walter Kerr in honor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama critic for The New York Times and the Herald Tribune.

Marc J. Franklin


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In addition, 1990 Jujamcyn spent $1.5 million to restore the Ritz to its original splendor, recreating its classical feeling of the 1920s. The theatre restored ceiling decorations and murals and designed Art Deco-type sconces, chandeliers, balcony, and ceiling lights to achieve illumination without jarring glare. The theatre also acquired one of the most colorful marquees on Broadway, framing the tenant’s title with a rainbow of hundreds of tiny lightbulbs.

Marc J. Franklin


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