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The Minskoff Theatre, perched on the third floor of One Astor Place, opened on March 13, 1973, with an elaborate revival of the 1919 musical Irene with Debbie Reynolds and Patsy Kelly. The theatre, with a spectacular view of The Great White Way, derives its name from Sam Minskoff and Sons, builders and owners of the high rise, which houses and runs it with James M. Nederlander.
The theatre features an arcade that runs from 44th to 45th Streets. Inside the spacious lobby dual escalators take playgoers to the third level of the Grand Foyer where there are coat-checking concessions and bars. Additional escalators rise to the fourth or orchestra level. The stage has an innovation: All the flies are on the upstage wall instead of on the side wall.
The most recent attractions here have been The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Saturday Night Fever; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Sunset Boulevard (the house’s seating capacity was enlarged to accommodate this Andrew Lloyd Webber hit), the revival of Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Metro, a spectacular musical from Poland; Cathy Rigby in a return engagement of Peter Pan; the long-running revue Black and Blue, winner of three Tonys.
Highlights of the 1980’s included a well received new production of West Side Story starring Debbie Allen; the NY Shakespeare Festival’s The Pirates of Penzance, winner of three Tonys; three musicals— Dance a Little Closer, Marilyn and Teddy & Alice—that had short runs; and The Tap Dance Kid, Sweet Charity and Cabaret that enjoyed long runs. Personal appearances were made here by The Four Tops and The Temptations; Patti LaBelle; and Peter, Paul and Mary.
During the 1970’s the Minskoff played host to Charles Aznavour on Broadway and Tony Bennett and Lena Horne Sing. Henry Fonda starred in his one-man show, Clarence Darrow, and Bette Midler clowned in Clams on the Half Shell.
In 1979 the theatre housed Bejart— Ballet of the Twentieth Century, Got Tu Go Disco and Englebert on Broadway.
In 1978 Nureyev danced here, followed by Angel, a musical version of the play Look Homeward, Angel; the musical King of Hearts, based on the Alan Bates film; and Ice Dancing.
In 1975 Pearl Bailey and Billy Daniels brought their production of Hello, Dolly! to this theatre, followed by a rock version of Hamlet called Rockabye Hamlet with Meat Loaf playing a priest. The Dutch National Ballet and Merce Cunningham and Dance Company played engagements, followed by Pippin, which moved here from the Imperial.
Written by Louis Botto