Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

The Tony Award-winning Manhattan Theatre Club (Peter J. Solomon, Chairman of the Board; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer) dedicated its Broadway theatre the “Samuel J. Friedman Theatre” on Thursday, September 4.  The ceremony began at the theatre (261 West 47th Street at 8th Avenue) . MTC previously announced that it was renaming its Broadway home, until now known as the Biltmore Theatre, the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in recognition of the pioneering Broadway publicist.

The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre will be inaugurated with the world premiere of To Be or Not To Be, previewing September 11, 2008 and opening October 2.

Born and raised in New York City, Samuel J. Friedman (1912 – 1974) was a pioneer in theatrical publicity.  Legendary for his stunts, personality and press agentry, Mr. Friedman began his career in 1937 at The Shubert Organization on a Cole Porter musical You Never Know, starring Clifton Webb, Libby Holman and Lupe Velez.  In the early 1950’s he opened National Press Agents with partner Bill Doll and at various times served as Vice President of Arthur P. Jacobs Co., Inc. and VP of Publicity for United Artists Motion Pictures and Billy Rose Enterprises.  He was a lifetime member and officer of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers.

Along the way he worked with such legendary performers as Gypsy_Rose_Lee/">Gypsy Rose Lee (Star and Garter, 1942), Montgomery Clift (The Searching Wing, 1944), Billy Rose (Diamond Horseshoe, 1946) Josephine Baker (Paris Sings Again, 1947), Mae West (Diamond Lil, 1950), Bette Davis (Two’s Company, 1952), Lotte Lenya (The Threepenny Opera, 1954), Jerry Orbach (The Threepenny Opera, 1955), Shirley Booth (Miss Isobel, 1957), Peter Ustinov (Romanoff and Juliet, 1957), Jackie Gleason (Take Me Along, 1959), Roddy McDowall (Compulsion, 1959), Jon Voight (That Summer, That Fall, 1967), Tammy Grimes (The Only Game in Town, 1968), Claire Bloom (Hedda Gabler, 1971), Victor Borge and Marcel Marceau.

Friedman handled the publicity for the national tour of What a Life in 1939, following its world premiere at the Biltmore in 1938.  In addition, he did the publicity for the original productions of such Broadway and Off-Broadway classics as Finian’s Rainbow (1947), Waiting for Godot (with an all black cast in 1957), A Moon For The Misbegotten (1957), Les Ballets Africains (1959), Genet’s The Blacks (1961), Golden Boy (1964), The Subject was Roses (1965), Oh! Calcutta! (1969), The Rothschilds (1970), and The Me Nobody Knows (1970).

While his one true love was theatre, Friedman also promoted such notable films as “Moulin Rouge,” “The Ten Commandments,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “West Side Story”; Sol Hurok’s “Holiday on Ice,” and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, located on West 47th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, reopened as the third, largest stage of the Manhattan Theatre Club in October 2003.  The re-opening followed an extensive two-year, $35 million renovation after years of neglect and damage.  Since its re-opening, the theatre has received numerous awards, including induction into the National Register of Historic Places, the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, the Theatre Museum Award, and the New York Landmark Conservancy’s highest honor for excellence.  It complements Manhattan Theatre Club's two Off Broadway stages at New York City Center.

Since its reopening in 2003, the theatre has hosted such acclaimed Manhattan Theatre Club productions as David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Rabbit Hole starring Tony Award-winner Cynthia Nixon, Conor McPherson’s Tony-nominated play Shining City, Donald Margulies’ Sight Unseen starring Tony-nominated Laura Linney, the Tony-nominated revival of Brian Friel’s Translations and Kurt Weill/Alfred Uhry/Hal Prince’s world premiere musical LoveMusik, starring Tony-nominated actors Donna Murphy and michael cerveris.

The theatre opened in 1925 as the Biltmore and housed such plays as Brother Rat with Jose Ferrer and See My Lawyer starring Milton Berle. In the '60s, it was the original home of the groundbreaking musical Hair and Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. It suffered extensive damage in the intervening years due to weather, vandalism and neglect and was closed in 1987 following a devastating fire.

The theater’s rehabilitation was designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, whose credits include Zankel Hall, The Rose Center for Earth and Science, Carnegie Hall and the Brooklyn Museum.

For more information about Manhattan Theatre Club please visit www.manhattantheatreclub.com

Photos by Peter James Zielinski

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Bob Ullman and Shirley Herz

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Peter J. Solomon (Chariman of Manhattan Theatre Club's Board)

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Peter J. Solomon

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Kate Levin (Commissioner of Department of Cultural Affairs)

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Barry Grove (MTC's Exexcutive Director)

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Pulitzer Prize winner Frank D. Gilroy (The Subject Was Roses)

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Jane Friedman

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Veteran ATPAM Publicist Harvey Sabinson

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Bob Ullman and Shirley Herz

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Bob Ullman and Shirley Herz

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Lynne Meadow (MTC's Artistic Director)

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
The cast of 'To Be or Not to Be'

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
The cast of 'To Be or Not to Be'

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
All gather to pull the switch...

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
...to light the marquee!

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Harvey Sabinson, Shirley Herz, Bob Ullman, Lewis Bernstein, Lynne Meadow, Peter J. Solomon, and Barry Grove

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Lynne Meadow, Lewis Bernstein, and Barry Grove

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Lynne Meadow, Bob Ullman, Shirley Herz, and Barry Grove

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Bob Ullman and Shirley Herz

Photo Coverage: MTC Lights Up the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre




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