March 28, 1927: The Majestic Theatre opens in New York City. The theater is located at 245 West 44th Street in Manhattan and is one of the largest Broadway theaters with 1,645 seats available. It is the traditional venue for major musical productions including Carousel, South Pacific, The Music Man, Camelot, A Little Night Music, and The Wiz. Majestic Theatre was the second home of 42nd Street and the third home for 1776. It has been the home of The Phantom of the Opera since it opened on January 26, 1988 with a record breaking performance run of over 10,000 performances. This is the longest running production in Broadway history. The theater opened with Rufus LeMaire’s Affairs.
The theater was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp and built by the Chanin Brothers. Krapp was born in 1887 in New York City. He apprenticed with Herts & Tallent where he was involved in some big name projects. He left the firm in 1915 and began working directly for the Shubert brothers. He would eventually become their primary architect. He also worked for the Chanin brothers, notably when building this theater. He was known for his ability to use the entirety of the space available. In the Majestic, he used stadium seating for the orchestra level and created better sightlines as well as making it possible to have larger lounge and lobby areas.
The Great Depression hit and building boom ceased. The Chanin brothers sold their theater to the Shubert brothers, today called the Shubert Organization. The Shuberts were responsible for the establishment of the Broadway district as the center for live theater in the US. The family emigrated from the Russian Empire to New York. The parents and seven children first settled in Syracuse. The sons broke the theater management monopoly and began their own theater production company. They acquired and then built many new theaters. By 1924 they had 86 theaters in the US alone and by the end of the decade they owned, operated, managed or booked over 1,000 theaters nationwide.
In 1973, the company reorganized and as of 2008 they owned or operated 17 Broadway theaters as well as others off Broadway and outside New York City. Many of the theaters formerly owned or operated by the Shuberts are still known by their old family name, even though they have been sold off. The Majestic is still under their care and they are still running The Phantom. The musical has topped its own previous record. The week ending January 2, 2011 had gross receipts of $1,390,530.53. However, the week ending December 29, 2013 topped it. The nine performances that week had gross receipts of $1,843,296.
Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once. – Norman Vincent Peale
There were centuries when civilization had no theater. – Orson Welles
Movies are all about plot. Theater, even if it’s story heavy, it’s about ideas. – Harvey Fierstein
If you really want to help the American theater, don’t be an actress, dahling. Be an audience. – Tallulah Bankhead
Also on this day: Ragnar, the Viking – In 845, Ragnar sacked Paris.
Tornado Outbreak – In 1920, a series of devastating tornadoes swept the US.
Three Mile Island – In 1979, a partial nuclear meltdown began in Pennsylvania.
He Changed the Way We Live – In 1897, Victor Mills was born.