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Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador 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 Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador 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 Ambassador Theatre built?

Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre! The Ambassador Theatre was built by the Shubert brothers, and opened in 1921 with a production of the musical The Rose Girl, featuring music by Anselm Goetzl and book and lyrics by William Carey Duncan. The Ambassador was designed by none other than Herbert J. Krapp, who designed the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadhurst Theatre, Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Richard Rodgers Theatre, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and more. The theatre is notable for the structure of the building. It was built on a strangely-shaped piece of land, and the interior layout of the auditorium was constructed on an angle, not straight-on, so that it would maximize the use of the space. The Ambassador Theatre was sold by The Shuberts in 1935 due to the struggles of The Great Depression, and was used as a movie theater, a television studio for NBC and later the DuMont Television Network. The Shuberts assumed ownership of the theater once again in 1956, returning the space to a legitimate theatre. The Ambassador Theatre has been designated a New York City landmark,

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

Shows and stars to have graced the stage of the Ambassador Theatre include: The Diary of Anne Frank (1957, transfer from the Cort Theatre) starring Joseph Schildkraut, Susan Strasberg and more; The Lion in Winter (1966) starring Robert Preston and Rosemary Harris; Godspell (1977 transfer from the Broadhurst and the Plymouth) starring Lamar Alford, Laurie Faso, Lois Foraker and more; A View From the Bridge (1983 revival) starring Tony Lo Bianco as Eddie and directed by Arvin Brown; Dreamgirls (1987 revival) starring Lillias White, Alisa Gyse, Arnetia Walker and more; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk (1996) starring Jeffrey Wright, Savion Glover, Duquesnay, Gaines, and Dule Hill; It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues (1999 transfer from Vivian Beaumont Theater) starring Ron Taylor, Gretha Boston, Eloise Laws and more; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999 revival) starring Anthony Rapp, B.D. Wong, Ilana Levine, Stanley Wayne Mathis, Kristin Chenoweth and Roger Bart; Topdog/Underdog (2002) starring Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright; Chicago (2003, transfer from Richard Rodgers Theatre and the Shubert) starring Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, Joel Grey and more, plus many others!

What show is currently in the Ambassador Theatre?

Chicago has been running in the Ambassador Theatre since 2003, making this not only the theatre's longest-running show, but the second-longest running Broadway show of all time! Behind Phantom of the Opera, which has played 13,370 performances, Chicago has played 9,692. The revival of Chicago opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 1996 before transferring to the Shubert in 1997, and finally to the Ambassador in 2003. The original revival cast featured Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, Joel Grey, Marcia Lewis, and David Sabella-Mills. The production received 6 Tony Awards in 1997: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for James Naughton, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Bebe Neuwirth, Best Direction of a Musical for Walter Bobbie, Best Choreography for Ann Reinking, and Best Lighting Design for Ken Billington. Chicago also won 6 Drama Desk Awards in 1997, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1998.

What notable performers have starred in Chicago on Broadway?

Performers who have taken on the role of Roxie Hart in Chicago include Melanie Griffith, Brooke Shields, Lisa Rinna, Ashlee Simpson, Michelle Williams, Bianca Marroquín, Ruthie Henshall, Christie Brinkley, Jennifer Nettles, Paige Davis, Brandy Norwood, Rumer Willis, Charlotte Kate Fox, Veronica Dunne, Mel B, Erika Jayne and more. Patrick Swayze, Wayne Brady, Usher, Matthew Settle, Michael C. Hall, John O'Hurley, Billy Ray Cyrus, Elvis Stojko, Marco Zunino, Eddie George, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jaime Camil, Todrick Hall and more have all starred as Billy Flynn. Notable performers to have starred as Velma Kelly include Ute Lemper, Carly Hughes, Amra-Faye Wright, and more. Wendy Williams and NeNe Leakes are two notable stars to have stepped into the iconic role of Matron 'Mama' Morton!

Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
Todrick Hall as Billy Flynn
Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
Erika Jayne as Roxie Hart
Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Billy Flynn
Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
Mel B as Roxie Hart
Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
Rumer Willis as Roxie Hart
Theater Stories: The Many Stars of CHICAGO, the CHARLIE BROWN Revival & More About the Ambassador Theatre!
NeNe Leakes as Matron 'Mama' Morton


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