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Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff Theatre

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!

Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff 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 Minskoff Theatre Built?

Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff TheatreThe Minskoff Theatre is one of the "youngest" Broadway theatres, having opened in 1973 (the Marquis Theatre was built in 1986, and the Lyric Theatre was restored in 1996). The theatre was designed by architects Kahn and Jacobs, and is located on the third floor of the office tower One Astor Plaza. The Theatre was named after the builders and owners of the high-rise building; Sam Minskoff and Sons (Henry H. Minskoff, Jerome Minskoff, Myron Minskoff, and Leo Minskoff). The theatre, built at the site of the old Astor Hotel, was constructed in order to help save the Theatre District, which was facing struggles in the seedy heart of Times Square at the time. The construction of the Minskoff Theatre helped to turn the fate of the Theatre District around.

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

The shows to have been performed at the Minskoff include Irene (1973) starring Debbie Reynolds; Tony & Lena Sing (1974) starring Tony Bennett and Lena Horne; Charles Aznavour on Broadway (1974) starring Charles Aznavour; Bette Midler's Clams on the Half Shell Revue (1975) starring Bette Midler; West Side Story (1980 revival) starring Ken Marshall, Josie de Guzman, Debbie Allen and more; Sweet Charity (1986 revival) starring Debbie Allen, Bebe Neuwirth, Allison Williams and Michael Rupert; Teddy & Alice (1987) starring Len Cariou, Beth Fowler, Ron Raines, Nancy Opel, and Karen Ziemba; Cabaret (1987 revival, transfer in 1988 from the Imperial) starring Joel Grey and more; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1993) starring Michael Damian and more; Sunset Boulevard (1994) starring Glenn Close, Alan Campbell, Alice Ripley, George Hearn, Alan Oppenheimer and more;

Saturday Night Fever (1999) starring James Carpinello, Paige Price, Orfeh, Paul Castree and Bryan Batt; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2001) starring Joshua Park, Kristen Bell, Linda Purl, Tom Aldredge, Stephen Lee Anderson, John Dossett, Kevin Durand, Jane Connell, and more; Dance of the Vampires (2002) starring Michael Crawford, Mandy Gonzalez, René Auberjonois, Max von Essen and more; Fiddler on the Roof (2004 revival) starring Alfred Molina, Randy Graff, Laura Michelle Kelly, John Cariani, Robert Petkoff, Nancy Opel and more; The Lion King (2006 transfer from the New Amsterdam Theatre) starring John Vickery, Tsidii Le Loka, Samuel E. Wright, Heather Headley, Tracy Nicole Chapman, Tom Alan Robbins, Max Casella, and more, plus many others!

Has the Minskoff Theatre presented an event other than a play or musical?

The Minskoff Theatre was actually the home to the 30th Miss Universe pageant in 1981. The pageant was originally scheduled to be held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, but due to political and financial reasons, the pageant was moved to New York. This was the first time that the Miss Universe pageant had been held in the United States for ten years. The pageant had been staged in the United States for the first twenty years of the pageant's existence (the current Miss Universe pageant was founded in 1952), and then was held internationally for the following decade. Irene Sáez from Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 1981.

The Minskoff Theatre is also the host of the Jimmy Awards, honoring the theatre achievements of high school students across the country! The first Jimmy Awards were held in 2009 at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2010 awards were held at the Marquis Theatre. All subsequent shows have been held at the Minskoff Theatre.

The Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' annual Spring Easter Bonnet Competition and the Autumn The Red Bucket Follies Competition are also held at the Minskoff Theatre, helping to raise money for Broadway Cares!

What is the longest running show at the Minskoff Theatre?

The longest running show at the Minskoff Theatre is The Lion King! The Lion King opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 1997 before transferring to the Minskoff in 2006, where it has played ever since! The Lion King is based on the 1994 Disney film, and features music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, with additional music and lyrics by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer. The musical featured direction by Julie Taymor, costume design by Julie Taymor, mask design by Julie Taymor and Michael Curry, and puppet design by Julie Taymor and Michael Curry.

Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff Theatre

The original cast featured John Vickery, Tsidii Le Loka, Samuel E. Wright, Scott Irby-Ranniar, Kajuana Shuford, Jason Raize, Heather Headley, Max Casella, Tom Alan Robbins, Geoff Hoyle, Tracy Nicole Chapman, Stanley Wayne Mathis, Kevin Cahoon, and Gina Breedlove. The Lion King is the third longest-running Broadway show of all time (behind The Phantom of the Opera and the 1996 revival of Chicago), and is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. The musical won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting Design.

Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff Theatre

Theater Stories: THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD, the JOSEPH Revival & More About The Minskoff Theatre

Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer


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