Theater Stories: CURIOUS INCIDENT, THE BAND'S VISIT, THE INHERITANCE and More About the Ethel Barrymore Theatre

The Barrymore Theatre has been home to performers like Carol Burnett, Jessica Lange, Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and more.

By: Apr. 11, 2021
Theater Stories: CURIOUS INCIDENT, THE BAND'S VISIT, THE INHERITANCE and More About the Ethel Barrymore Theatre

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 Ethel Barrymore Theatre built?

Theater Stories: CURIOUS INCIDENT, THE BAND'S VISIT, THE INHERITANCE and More About the Ethel Barrymore Theatre Designed by the famed Herbert J. Krapp (architect of the Ambassador Theatre,
the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the Biltmore Theatre, the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre and more) and built by the Shuberts, the theatre opened on December 20, 1928, with The Kingdom of God, a play selected by none other than Ethel Barrymore, for whom the theatre was named. This was the last theatre to be built by the Shubert brothers themselves. At the theatre, Barrymore starred in The Love Duel (1929), Scarlett Sister Mary (1930), The School for Scandal (1931), and An International Incident (1940). The venue has continually operated as a legitimate theatre since its opening.

Who was Ethel Barrymore?

Ethel Barrymore was a part of the famous Barrymore family of actors. She was the sister of John and Lionel Barrymore, the aunt of John Drew Barrymore, and great-aunt of Drew Barrymore. She was also a granddaughter of actress and theater-manager Louisa Lane Drew, and niece of John Drew Jr and Sidney Drew.

Ethel Barrymore was one of the most widely-regarded and famous actors of the time - and of all time- and starred both on Broadway and in films. She made her debut on Broadway in 1895, in a play called The Imprudent Young Couple, starring her uncle John Drew, Jr. She went on to star on the London stage, in productions of Secret Service, The Bells, Peter the Great, and Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. She continued to act in numerous stage productions, including Sunday by Thomas Raceward, A Doll's House, Romeo and Juliet, and The Constant Wife.

On screen, Ethel Barrymore starred 15 silent films. She went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film None but the Lonely Heart (1944) opposite Cary Grant. Other film appearances include The Spiral Staircase (1946) directed by Robert Siodmak, The Paradine Case (1947) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and Pinky (1949) directed by Elia Kazan, all three of which earned her Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Barrymore is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame, and was posthumously inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

What stars and shows have graced the stage of the theatre?

Shows to have been performed at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre include Pal Joey (1940) starring Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal; A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) starring Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden; Tea and Sympathy (1953) starring Deborah Kerr, Leif Erickson, and John Kerr; A Raisin in the Sun (1959) starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Ivan Dixon, Lonne Elder III, Diana Sands and more; Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death (1971) starring Bill Duke, Albert Hall, Garrett Morris and Beatrice Winde; I Love My Wife (1977) James Naughton, Joanna Gleason, Ilene Graff and more; Baby (1983) starring Liz Callaway, Beth Fowler, James Congdon, Martin Vidnovic and more; Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988) starring Delroy Lindo, Angela Bassett and more; Putting it Together (1999) starring Carol Burnett, George Hearn, Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman, and Bronson Pinchot; The Glass Menagerie (2005 revival) starring Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Christian Slater, and Josh Lucas; An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (2011); Death of a Salesman (2012 revival) starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield, Linda Emond and Finn Wittrock; Chaplin (2012) starring Rob McClure, Jenn Colella, Erin Mackey, Christiane Noll and more;

(Chaplin, 2012)

Betrayal (2013 revival) starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2014) starring Alex Sharp, Enid Graham, Ian Barford, and Francesca Faridany;

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2014)

Six Degrees of Separation (2017) starring Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, and Corey Hawkins; The Band's Visit (2017) starring Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani, Ari'el Stachel, George Abud, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor and more;

Theater Stories: CURIOUS INCIDENT, THE BAND'S VISIT, THE INHERITANCE and More About the Ethel Barrymore Theatre
(Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in The Band's Visit, 2017)

The Inheritance (2019) starring Kyle Soller, Andrew Burnap, Samuel H. Levine, Paul Hilton, John Benjamin Hickey, Kyle Harris, Lois Smith and more, plus many others!

What show most recently played the theatre?

The show to most recently be performed at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre was The Inheritance. The Inheritance began previews on September 27th, 2019 and officially opened on November 17th, 2019. It was set to conclude its Broadway run on Sunday, March 15th, and closed just days early due to the Broadway shutdown. Matthew Lopez's The Inheritance, directed by Stephen Daldry, featured Jordan Barbour, Ryan M. Buggle, Jonathan Burke, Andrew Burnap, Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr., Dylan Frederick, Tony Goldwyn, Kyle Harris, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Carson McCalley, Tre Ryder, Lois Smith, Kyle Soller, and Arturo Luís Soria. The company also includes understudies Mark H. Dold, Kate Goehring, Sam Lilja, Jake Odmark, Matthew Russell, Bradley James Tejeda and Reggie D. White.

Plot: In contemporary Manhattan, Eric and Toby are 30-somethings who seem to be very much in love and thriving. But on the cusp of their engagement, they meet an older man haunted by the past, and a younger man hungry for a future. Chance meetings lead to surprising choices as the lives of three generations interlink and collide-with explosive results.

The Inheritance is currently nominated for 11 Tony Awards:

Best Play

Paul Englishby - Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Andrew Burnap- Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

John Benjamin Hickey- Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Paul Hilton- Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Lois Smith- Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Bob Crowley- Best Scenic Design of a Play

Bob Crowley- Best Costume Design of a Play

Jon Clark- Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paul Arditti & Christopher Reid- Best Sound Design of a Play

Stephen Daldry- Best Direction of a Play

Theater Stories: CURIOUS INCIDENT, THE BAND'S VISIT, THE INHERITANCE and More About the Ethel Barrymore Theatre

(Matthew Lopez and the cast of THE INHERITANCE)