Broadway’s The Foxwoods Theatre Will Be Renamed The Lyric
Since Broadway theaters began popping up across New York City about a century ago, so much has changed. Many of the original theatres known and loved to so many no longer exist. They are merely an essence of memory. A mark on the chalkboard of history in a city where the environment, buildings and structures are always consistently in motion. However, one of Broadway’s original theaters is coming home to a brand new house. The Lyric Theatre, which opened in 1903, is one of most unknown names in Broadway theater history. However, it is one of the most beautiful and iconic theatrical structures still standing today in New York. While you may not have realized this theatre was ever refered to as the Lyric, you will soon as the famous name returns not only to Broadway but 42nd Street this year. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that the Ambassador Theatre Group has decided to rename Broadway’s Foxwoods Theatre to The Lyric Theatre!
The original Lyric Theatre on Broadway was built in 1903 in New York City on 42nd Street and designed by Victor Hugo Koehler. The theatre was originally built for Reginald De Koven’s American School of Opera. However, the school went bankrupt before the construction was completed. When finished, the theatre was leased to the Shubert brothers. The theatre was home to many productions including Oscar Straus’ The Chocolate Soldier, Rudolf Friml’s The Firefly, Fred and Adele Astaire’s For Goodness Sake, the Marx Brothers’ The Cocoanuts, Cole Porter’s Fifty Million Frenchmen and Florenz Ziegfeld’s musical version of The Three Musketeers. The theatre was often used as a playhouse for the works of Shakespeare as well. In 1934, due to the struggling economy, it was turned into a movie house which it remained until 1992. Original aspects of the theatre were used in the creation of the new Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1996.
The Broadway playhouse was constructed in 1996-1997 on the site of the former Apollo and Lyric Theatre by Livent Inc. At the time of its construction, the playhouse was named the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. It was the very first theatre on Broadway to be named for a corporate sponsor. Ford paid for the naming rights for the theatre due to the fact that a Model T Ford car appeared in the theatre’s very first production, Ragtime the Musical. Livent ran into financial and legal troubles less than a year later and the theatre was taken over by SFX Theatrical Group which was purchased just months later by Live Nation. Under Live Nation and the Ford name, revivals of Jesus Christ Superstar and 42nd Street appeared at the theatre.
In 2005, the theatre was completely renovated and purchased by Hilton for the U.S. premiere of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After Chitty Chitty Bang Bang closed, under the Hilton name, the theatre hosted productions such as Hot Feet, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Pirate Queen and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein closed in early 2009 and the theatre remained empty throughout the rest of the year. In August 2010, the theatre’s lease was sold to Foxwoods Casino which named it the Foxwoods Theatre. Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark moved in and was slated to open in December 2010. Due to budget issues and massive technical problems, the show delayed opening until June 2011. The show ran there until just this past January 2014 when it shuttered after 1,066 performances. During Spiderman’s run, the theatre was expanded to 1,930 seats making it the largest theatre on Broadway.
In May 2013, the Ambassador Theatre Group purchased the lease from the Foxwoods Casino for the theatre for $60 million dollars. The naming rights for the theatre expired in June and many have wondered what the Ambassador Theatre Group would name Broadway’s biggest house. ATG has happily announced they plan to restore the name of the Foxwoods Theatre to The Lyric Theatre. This decision returns the name Lyric to a Broadway theatre after it was taken away during the construction for the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. However, many aspects of the original Lyric Theatre are incorporated into the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway. The most iconic would be the theatre facade located on 43rd street between 7th and 8th avenues. (Pictured Left)
I couldn’t be happier over the announcement that the Ambassador Theatre Group plans to rename the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway to The Lyric. What a truly historical move! The Lyric, one of Broadway’s original theatre, disappeared too easily like many did when the struggling economy bankrupted Broadway during the 1930 and never made its way back to becoming a legit Broadway house. While many were frustrated with the move to combine the Lyric and the Apollo in the late 90’s (Pictured Right), I think returning one of the theatre’s original names may make the situation slightly better. Many argued about turning the two smaller theatres in an oversized Broadway house which it has now become. With 1,900 seats, many productions struggle to fill or even consider The Foxwoods due to the numbers they will have to bring in weekly to make their money back. I think with the right production and right timing, The Lyric will eventually find a show absolutely perfect for it. While it has been delayed for now, King Kong could absolutely own this stage and theatre with the size of that show’s technical needs alone matching the house it would be in.
Welcome home to The Lyric Theatre on Broadway! Many of us are happy to see one of the very first names for a Broadway theatre return to New York after two decades of being gone. As the Lyric returns, its neighbor, The Times Square Theatre, is also under construction but to be turned into a 4D Broadway experience. Stay tuned to Luner on Theatre as we bring you not only the latest theatre news but the latest news about the theatres themselves as well. For more information, visit The Foxwoods Theatre’s Official Website. Visit Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!