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BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Winter Garden Theatre

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BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Winter Garden Theatre

BroadwayWorld Book Club is officially off and running! Or should we say, reading!

The first BroadwayWorld Book Club selection is Jennifer Ashley Tepper's The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 1. Tepper has just released the first volume of the book for free on Kindle!

Join the Discussion:

Author Jennifer Tepper will be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A today at 12pm ET so be sure to tune in! You can post questions for Tepper on our Message Board HERE and on all BroadwayWorld social media!

Recap of Chapter Two: The Winter Garden Theatre

If you would like to join the discussion, you can find a round-up of excerpts and fun facts from the first chapter of the book below:

BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Winter Garden TheatreDid You Know:

The Winter Garden has the distinction of being one of only two currently operating Broadway theaters that began life as something else entirely?

In 1880, the building we now know as the Winter Garden opened as the American Horse Exchange. Before that, the land was occupied by a farm.

The American Horse Exchange was a beloved landmark for those in the horse and buggy trade for about 30 years. Not all New Yorkers were thrilled that it was being demolished for a new "music hall." The Winter Garden has a unique shape: it's the widest theater on Broadway- and it's mezzanine is only seven rows! That's because it was once a giant stable for horses and buggies.

Did you know:

For 30 years, from 1982 to 2013, only two shows played at the Winter Garden: Cats (1982-2000) and Mamma Mia! (2001-2013).

There was nearly a year between Cats and Mamma Mia where the Winter Garden sat empty, being un-felined, as it were. The entire theater had to be revamped and all the cat fur had to be dug out of the walls.BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Winter Garden Theatre

But before Cats and Mamma Mia! took over for their three decade reign, the Winter Garden was filled with new shows all the time. In the 1950s, the original production of Wonderful Town, starring Rosalind Russell, opened at the Winter Garden. The show had hits like Funny Girl, West Side Story, Purlie, and Mame, and short-runners like Doctor Jazz, Georgy and Jimmy. From 1950 to 1980 over 65 productions played the Winter Garden.

Did you know:

A few of the dressing rooms in the Winter Garden Theatre had originally been one large suite, occupied by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, Angela Lansbury in Mame and more!

Penny Davis, Wardrobe Supervisor/Dresser

BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Winter Garden Theatre

We were at the Winter Garden Theatre, and in those days the star dressing room, which was on the fourth floor, was actually three rooms. It was a little suite. The bathroom had been decorated by Barbra Streisand during Funny Girl. There was red paisley wallpaper that was quite fabulous and a full bathtub! The whole bathroom was very ornate and lavish.

Then there was the main room that Angela Lansbury had decorated when Mame started. She had done a commercial for the department store Korvette's and in exchange they furnished the dressing room for her. It was this very English style decor: green bamboo, with white crowns. There was an elaborate sitting room with a wet bar!

A year after Mame was gone, I went to see Follies at the Winter Garden with Ann and we went backstage afterward to say hello to Gene Nelson and Alexis Smith. At that point, I saw that the dressing room had been broken up into two or three smaller rooms.

Now join the discussion!


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