The Minskoff Theatre was named after Sam Minskoff and Sons, one of New York’s significant real-estate families. It is the third largest Broadway theatre. The Minskoff is currently housing Disney’s The Lion King, for which it underwent a massive renovation, allowing it to be magically transformed into an African land.
Productions of Note
The Minskoff opened on March 13, 1973, with an extravagant revival of Irene featuring Debbie Reynolds, George S. Irving, and Patsy Kelly. Over the years, it has housed numerous musicals, dance companies, and concerts. In the 1970s, a rock adaptation of Hamlet called Rockabye Hamlet was staged here. The production was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and it starred Meat Loaf as a priest. The Dutch National Ballet and Merce Cunningham also performed here, followed by the long-running musical Pippin.
In 1979, the theatre served as home to Bejart—Ballet of the Twentieth Century, Got Tu Go Disco and Englebert on Broadway. The theatre also hosted the Miss Universe Contest in 1981 and handled the transfer of The Pirates of Penzance. Other significant productions of the 1980s included the revival of West Side Story with Debbie Allen, The Tap Dance Kid, Cy Coleman’s Sweet Charity starring Debbie Allen, Bebe Neuwirth, and Michael Rupert, and Cabaret featuring Joel Grey as the EmCee .
Concert performances were made by numerous star groups and performers, including The Temptations, Patti LaBelle, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard opened at the Minskoff in 1994 and proved to be a success. The cast included Glenn Close, Alan Campbell, Alice Ripley, and George Hearn. On February 26, 2004, the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof was revived. The Lion King transferred to the theatre in 2006.
Other noteworthy shows include the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the outstanding Polish musical Metro, Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby, and the Tony Award-winning revue Black and Blue.
35 Feet in the Air
Designed by architects Kahn and Jacobs, the Minskoff Theatre is on the third floor of One Astor Plaza, an office tower built where the renowned Astor Hotel once stood. The theatre displays a walkway that runs from 44th to 45th Streets. Inside the expansive lobby, double escalators bring patrons to the Grand Foyer’s third level where they can check their coats, purchase a snack, and have a drink at the bar. There are more escalators that bring patrons up to the fourth (orchestra) level. The stage features a novelty: all of the flies are located on the upstage wall instead of the side wall. The orchestra is placed on a steep incline.
Over two hundred artists worked almost six months to perform an expansive renovation on the Minskoff before Disney’s The Lion King opened. Architect Mariuca Brancoveanu designed an intensely new atmosphere. There is a carpet walkway into the theatre, and the main lobby showcases hand-painted, gold-leaf carved displays that decorate the theatre’s sprawling interior walls.
Enthralled from the Moment You Enter
With a seating capacity of 1,597, the Minskoff Theatre is one of the Nederlander Organization’s nine Broadway theatres. It was designed solely for great musicals. The seats are cozy and the sightlines are fantastic. The Minskoff is notable for its elevation (thirty-five feet in the air!) as it’s located on the third floor of One Astor Plaza, which has fifty-five floors. From the glass front of the building on all levels of the theatre, patrons are provided with a remarkable view of Broadway.
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