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Theater Stories: A BRONX TALE, THE PROM, DIANA & More About The Longacre Theatre!

Learn all about the stars who have graced the stage of the Longacre Theatre, including Kelsey Grammer , Zachary Levi, James Franco, Nell Carter and more!

By: Jan. 31, 2021
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Theater Stories: A BRONX TALE, THE PROM, DIANA & More About The Longacre Theatre!  Image

It is impossible to walk into a Broadway theatre, or simply just think of a Broadway theatre, without immediately connecting a memory to it. Every Broadway theatre is filled with a rich and colorful history, brimming over with stories of the stars who graced its staged, legends that were made within its walls, and the feelings we all have of looking back and thinking "I saw a Tony winning performance in that theater" or "I wish I'd seen that performance in that theater."

Whether a theater has a history that's a hundred years old or closer to forty, every Broadway theater tells a story, each one filled with fun facts you never knew!

With our new series, Theater Stories, we're bringing you tidbits you may have never heard, tales you never thought to ask about and more, giving you a better look into the history of Broadway theatres, as well as a leg-up on your next theater-trivia night.

When was the Longacre Theatre built?

The Longacre Theatre, titled for the original name of Times Square, Longacre Square, was designed by architect Henry Beaumont Herts in 1912. Herts also designed 1903 New Amsterdam Theatre, the Fulton (demolished in 1982), the Gaiety (demolished n 1982), the Liberty (defunct in 1933), the Lyceum, the New German Theatre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The theatre was built by Harry Frazee, who is perhaps best known as the the owner of the Boston Red Sox who sold Babe Ruth's contract to the New York Yankees in order to back theatre productions, beginning The Curse of the Bambino.

Many producers avoided the Longacre Theatre for fear that their production would be a flop. The first production to be staged at the Longacre Theatre was William Hurlbut-Frances Whitehouse comedy Are You a Crook?, which opened in 1913. The theatre has mostly operated as a legitimate Broadway venue, with the exception of its brief use as a radio and television studio in the mid-1940s to early 1950s.

What shows and stars have graced the stage of the Longacre Theatre?

Shows to have played the Longacre Theatre include Waiting for Lefty (1935) starring Clifford Odets, Sanford Meisner, Elia Kazan and Lee J. Cobb; The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1977) starring Al Pacino, Gustave Johnson, and Joe Fields; Ain't Misbehavin' (1978) starring Nell Carter, André DeShields, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, and Charlayne Woodard; Children of a Lesser God (1980) starring Phyllis Frelich and John Rubinstein; A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1985 revival) starring Jim Dale, Stockard Channing, Joanna Gleason, Christina Pickles and Kate Wilkinson; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2005 revival) starring Kathleen Turner, Bill Irwin, Mireille Enos, and David Harbour; Boeing Boeing (2008 revival) starring Christine Baranski, Mark Rylance, Bradley Whitford, Gina Gershon, Mary McCormack, and Kathryn Hahn; Burn the Floor (2009) featuring Karina Smirnoff, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Sharna Burgess, Peta Murgatroyd, and more; La Cage aux Folles (2010 revival) starring Douglas Hodge, Kelsey Grammer and more.

First Date the Musical (2013) starring Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez; Of Mice and Men (2014) starring James Franco, Chris O'Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton; You Can't Take It with You (2014) starring James Earl Jones, Rose Byrne, Elizabeth Ashley, Annaleigh Ashford, and more; Allegiance (2015) starring George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung, Michael K. Lee, Christopheren Nomura, Katie Rose Clarke, and Greg Watanabe; A Bronx Tale (2016) starring Bobby Conte Thornton, Nick Cordero, Richard H. Blake, Ariana DeBose and more; The Prom (2018) starring Caitlin Kinnunen, Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel, Isabelle McCalla, Christopher Sieber, Michael Potts, Angie Schworer, Josh Lamon and more; The Lightning Thief (2019) starring Chris McCarrell, Jorrel Javier and more; Diana (2020) starring Jeanna de Waal, Erin Davie, Roe Hartrampf, Judy Kaye, Bruce Dow, Zach Adkins and more, plus many others!

Allegiance, 2015
The Prom, 2018
The Lightning Thief, 2019

What show broke the box office record at the Longacre?

The show to break the box office record at the Longacre Theatre was A Bronx Tale. A Bronx Tale grossed $1,293,125.32 over nine performances for the week ending January 1, 2017. A Bronx Tale, based off the one man show and subsequent film, premiered on Broadway in 2016, and closed in 2018 after 700 performances.

The cast featured Bobby Conte Thornton, Nick Cordero, Hudson Loverro, Athan Sporek, Richard H. Blake, Ariana DeBose and Lucia Giannetta as Rosina. In 2020, after the passing of A Bronx Tale star Nick Cordero caused by COVID-19, fans launched a petition to rename the Longacre Theatre in his memory. The petition reads: "A Bronx Tale, The Musical" was the last Broadway show Nick Cordero starred in. This musical set a record as the longest running musical in Longacre history. With the passing of this incredibly talented and beloved Broadway star, it is the perfect memory for him and his family legacy, to assure his name will always be in lights in the Broadway Community." It currently has 34,205 signatures.

What show most recently played the theatre?

The show to most recently officially open at the Longacre Theatre was The Lightning Thief. The Lightning Thief, based on the Rick Riordan novel of the same name, opened at the Longacre Theatre in October 2019, following a 32-city North American First National Tour earlier in the year- and played a 16-week engagement, closing in January 2020.

The original Broadway cast features Chris McCarrell (Les Miserables) as Percy Jackson, with Izzy Figueroa, Jorrel Javier, Ryan Knowles, Sam Leicht, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, James Hayden Rodriguez, Jalynn Steele, T. Shyvonne Stewart, and Kristin Stokes. The Lightning Thief has a book by Joe Tracz (Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Be More Chill), music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki (Broadway debut), and is directed by Stephen Brackett (A Strange Loop, Fall Springs, Be More Chill), with choreography by Patrick McCollum (The Band's Visit), with set design by Lee Savage (Satchmo at the Waldorf), costume design by Sydney Maresca (Hand to God), lighting design by David Lander (Torch Song), sound design by Ryan Rumery (Be More Chill, Fool for Love), puppet design by AchesonWalsh (On the Town), fight direction by Rod Kinter (Red Roses, Green Gold), hair, wigs, and makeup design by Dave Bova (Bandstand), orchestrations by Wiley Deweese (First Daughter Suite, Preludes) and Rob Rokicki, and music direction by Wiley Deweese.

What show was set to open next at the Longacre?

Theater Stories: A BRONX TALE, THE PROM, DIANA & More About The Longacre Theatre!  ImageThe musical Diana, based on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales began previews at the Longacre on March 2, 2020, and was scheduled to open on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, but was unable to open due to the Broadway shutdown brought on by the pandemic. Written by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, Diana is directed by Christopher Ashley, and stars Jeanna de Waal as "Diana", Roe Hartrampf as "Prince Charles", Erin Davie as "Camilla Parker Bowles", and Judy Kaye as "Queen Elizabeth". The complete cast includes Tessa Alves, Zach Adkins, Ashley Andrews, Austen Danielle Bohmer, Holly Ann Butler, Stephen Carrasco, Bruce Dow, Richard Gatta, Lauren E.J. Hamilton, Emma Hearn, Shaye Hopkins, Andre Jordan, Gareth Keegan, Nathan Lucrezio, Tomas Matos, Chris Medlin, Laura Stracko, and Bethany Ann Tesarck. It was announced that Diana would be filmed on stage without an audience at the Longacre and released on Netflix, featuring the original Broadway cast.