BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY, VOLUME 3 - The Edison Theatre
Have you ever wanted to spend time with Stephen Sondheim in the lobby during one of his shows? Did you know that Patti LuPone once had a Broadway ghostly encounter? Have you wondered what it was like to be in the landmark Broadway premiere of Angels in America?
From opening nights to closing nights. From secret passageways to ghostly encounters. From Broadway debuts to landmark productions. Score a front row seat to read hundreds of stories about the most important stages in the world, seen through the eyes of the producers, actors, stagehands, writers, musicians, company managers, dressers, designers, directors, ushers, and door men who bring The Great White Way to life each night. You'll never look at Broadway the same way again.
DRESS CIRCLE PUBLISHING will release THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY, VOLUME 3, the latest in a series by acclaimed historian and producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper on Tuesday, November 15. To pre-order the book, please visit www.dresscirclepublishing.com.
This is the third book in a series that will tell the stories of all of the Broadway theaters. Volume 3 includes the Broadhurst, the Belasco, the Edison, the Lyric, the Majestic, the Schoenfeld, the St. James and the Walter Kerr: eight Broadway theaters that light up New York City.
Below, BroadwayWorld is excited to give you a sneak peek of the new book, with a look at: The Edison Theatre...
The Edison Theatre
Did You Know:
The Hotel Edison's Ballroom was once a Broadway theater?
The Hotel Edison is truly at the heart of Times Square. Cutting through from 46th Street to 47th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, the structure holds multiple dining and entertainment spaces... including the Edison Ballroom. For one year in the 1950s, and then 20 years beginning in 1970, this space was a Broadway house.
The Edison was one of the most alternative venues ever to be called a Broadway theater. It spent time as a theater-in-the-round... it housed Broadway's most infamous "nudie show"... it was independently run in the midst of a theatre district monopolized by the three major theatre owners.
More so than any other Broadway theater before or since, the Edison Theatre marched to the beat of its own drum.
Did You Know:
Broadway's Edison Theatre had more of a 'mom-and-pop' feel and contained Broadway's first bar?
Maria Di Dia, General Manager, Theater Operator, Producer, Stage Manager, Actor
Over the years, I got to know all of the theaters' door people, house managers, everyone. We were part of the 47th Street group, with the Barrymore, Biltmore, and Brooks Atkinson. The Edison became the place where people would go to cash their check at the box office, because we weren't as corporate as the other theaters. The Edison always had a mom-and-pop feel.
Theatre Refreshment, the company that manages the bars in Broadway theaters, first started at the Edison. We had the first Broadway bar. The bartenders from other theaters, especially the Barrymore across the street, would come to the Edison for ice because they didn't have ice makers in their theaters yet, and we did. Theatre Refreshment built our bar first to show The Shuberts what a theater bar could be.
Did You Know:
The first time Maury Yeston heard his work on a Broadway stage was at the Edison?
Maury Yeston, Writer
In the 1970s and 1980s, every year at the BMI Workshop, there were at least two showcases at the Edison Theatre of the best material that was written by the class. It ended shortly after Lehman Engel died, but while he was alive, we all got to present our work at a Broadway theater.
I was in the workshop with amazing artists including Carol Hall, Ed Kleban, Alan Menken, and so many others. There was a lot of wonderful writing that went on. We would get to showcase our work with professional Broadway actors-usually ones who were new in town. One of Betty Buckley's earliest New York jobs was doing a BMI Workshop. We couldn't believe we got to do this at the Edison. Boy, was it exciting.
The first time I presented my work at the Edison, it was a piece from Ramayana. I was trying to turn that Indian legend into a musical. The second time I presented my work there it was Nine, and it really created a sensation in 1974. I got to present three songs. That became my trademark for those kinds of presentations moving forward, because I felt like three songs really allowed the writer to encapsulate what the show was going to be like.
At the Edison, I remember playing "Guido's Song". That brought the house down. It gave the audience an idea of the main character and also told you what the show was. I followed that with a ballad, which was "Unusual Way". That was also very well received. After that, I presented "The Germans at the Spa", which was a production number. Nine was literally launched from that showcase at the Edison.
Second photo courtesy of Sammy Buck.
Jennifer Ashley Tepper is the Director of Programming at Feinstein's/ 54 Below, and the author of The Untold Stories of Broadway book series. As the leader of Feinstein's/ 54 Below's creative team, Tepper has curated or produced over 1500 shows, ranging from musicals in concert, to original solo acts, to theatrical reunions, to songwriter celebrations, and beyond. On Broadway, Tepper has worked on shows in directing, producing, and marketing capacities, including [title of show], The Performers, the 2011 revival of Godspell, and the 2013 revival of Macbeth. In addition, she is the co-creator of the Bistro Award-winning concert series, "If It Only Even Runs A Minute," now in its 6th year. Tepper was recently named one of the 10 professionals on Backstage's "1st Annual Broadway Future Power List." According to the article, "Proving herself both a zeitgeist predictor and theatrical historian with her eclectic programming, Tepper is leading the conversation on contemporary musical theatre." Follow her on twitter @jenashtep.