St. James Theatre
St. James Theatre (image from flickr.com)
St. James Theatre (image from Trip Adviser)
Elevation of Erlanger's Theatre (on right) with the Little Theatre pictured to the left (see The Clio entry for Helen Hayes Theatre) (image from the Museum of the City of New York)
Backstory and Context
The St. James Theatre opened in 1927 as the Erlanger Theatre. Abraham L. Erlanger, formerly a Theatrical Syndicate owner, built it as his own venue after the Shubert Brothers helped break the Syndicate monopoly on Broadway. The Erlanger Theatre was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the same architects who designed New York's Grand Central Station. The two architects, Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, started the firm in 1898. They were well-known for hotel designs such as the Biltmore, the Vanderbilt, and the Ritz.
The exterior of the Theatre was simple as it used a brick facade and iron loggia. Still, the Erlanger was one of the largest on Broadway when it opened, and the interior was ornately detailed in Beaux-Arts style, with French ornamentation, murals, plasterwork, and two balconies. With this design, the Theatre was an ideal fit for musicals looking for a venue.
In 1930, Erlanger died, and the Astor family purchased the venue, renaming it the St. James. Eleven years later, the Shubert Organization purchased the St. James, then sold it in 1957 to William L. McKnight. Jujamcyn Theaters acquired the St. James through McKnight's daughter, and the theater was renovated and reopened in December of 1958. Some of the most well-known productions of the St. James Theatre over the years include the musicals Oklahoma!, The King and I, Hello Dolly!, and The Producers.
"St. James Theatre." Internet Broadway Database. Accessed Web, 5/7/17. https://www.ibdb.com/theatre/st-james-theatre-1145.