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This theatre opened as the Uris on November 28, 1972, and was the first new legitimate theatre built on Broadway since 1928. A 30-year lease was taken on it by Gerald Oestreicher, and the opening production was a space musical called Via Galactica.
For over two decades this house, rechristened the Gershwin on June 5, 1983, has showcased spectacular musicals, concerts, ballets and plays. Recent tenants: Oklahoma!, Riverdance On Broadway, Tango Argentino, Peter Pan, On the Town, 1776, Candide, Show Boat, Tommy Tune Tonite! The colorful Moscow Circus cavorted here in 1991. In 1990 Fiddler on the Roof, starring Topol as Tevye, won the Tony for Best Revival.
A lavishly mounted stage adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis arrived in 1990 with some additional songs written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, who had created the famed MGM movie score.
Starlight Express, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Richard Stilgoe, rolled in in 1987 with skilled skaters zooming all over the theatre on an ingenious set by John Napier.
In 1985 Singin’ in the Rain was adapted for the stage by Comden and Green from their original MGM screenplay, with vintage songs by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown and real rain onstage.
The RSC, headed by Derek Jacobi and Sinead Cusack, distinguished themselves in 1984 in Cyrano de Bergerac and Much Ado About Nothing.
The classic Show Boat docked here in 1983 with Donald O’Connor at the helm as Cap’n Andy. The long-running hit Annie moved here in 1982, and in 1981 the rollicking New York Shakespeare Festival production of The Pirates of Penzance won Tonys for Kevin Kline, director Wilford Leach and as Best Revival. That same year, Rex Harrison, Milo O’Shea, Nancy Ringham and Cathleen Nesbitt returned in a sumptuous revival of My Fair Lady.
The seventies brought the sensational Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Directed by Harold Prince and starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, the musical won eight Tonys in 1979. In 1977 Yul Brynner and Constance Towers triumphed in a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, and The Houston Grand Opera brought its thrilling revival of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in 1976. The production included sections never before performed and received a Tony Award for Best Revival. Another opera, Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, also a Houston Grand opera production, was performed here for the first time and proved the novelty of the season. During 1973 there was a stage version of the musical Gigi, starring Alfred Drake, Daniel Massey, Agnes Moorehead and Karin Wolfe; a revival of Romberg’s The Desert Song; and a popular musical version of the play Two for the Seesaw, called Seesaw, with Tommy Tune winning a Tony.
Among superstars who made concert appearances here were Bing Crosby, Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn and Frank Sinatra.
The Gershwin also houses the Theater Hall of Fame.
Written by Louis Botto