August 17, 2006

A Brief History of the August Wilson Theatre

August 17th, 2006

August Wilson Theatre

What’s the story behind the August Wilson Theatre, which is home to Jersey Boys, the winner of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award?

The Virginia Theatre was renamed the August Wilson Theatre October 16, 2005, only 14 days after the American playwright’s untimely death.

The August Wilson Theatre is located at 245 W. 52nd Street in New York City. Designed by architects C. Howard Crane and Kenneth Franzheim, it opened in 1925 as the Guild Theatre. It was built by the Theatre Guild and opened with a revival production of George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra. Among the shows to play this theatre were original productions of Maxwell Anderson’s Elizabeth the Queen, Lynn Riggs’ Green Grow the Lilacs and Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra.

In 1943, the theatre was leased as a radio station. The American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA) purchased the theatre in 1950 and renamed it the ANTA Theatre. Then, 1981, the theatre was purchased by Jujamcyn and named the Virginia Theatre for Jujamcyn Board member Virginia Binger. Beginning in the early 1980s, the theatre appeared to be a commercial success, with a new strategy of filling the house with smaller musicals and revues. The theatre was designated a New York City landmark in 1985.

For more details on the August Wilson Theatre, check out:

Internet Broadway Database

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