The St. James Theatre, 2006
|Address||246 W. 44th St|
New York City
|Architect||Warren and Wetmore|
The St. James Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 246 W. 44th St. in midtown Manhattan. With 1,710 seats over three levels, it is one of the largest Broadway theatres. The St. James Theatre, named after the famed St James's Theatre in London, is owned and operated by Jordan Roth, President, and owner of Jujamcyn Theaters. The Tony-nominated musical, Frozen debuted at the theatre in March of 2018.
The St. James was built in 1927 by Abraham L. Erlanger, theatrical producer and a founding member of the Theatrical Syndicate, on the site of the original Sardi's restaurant. Designed by architects Warren and Wetmore (one of two firms that designed Grand Central Terminal), the theatre's simple brick facade is dominated by a large cast iron loggia, masking the fire escapes from the auditorium over the expansive street front. The gilded, landmarked auditorium is ornate, with two balconies. It opened in 1927 as The Erlanger Theatre. Upon Erlanger's death in 1930, control of the venue was taken over by the Astor family, who owned the land on which the theatre stood. The Astors renamed it the St. James Theatre.
The theatre was taken over by the Shuberts in 1941. They were forced to sell it to William L. McKnight in 1957 following the loss of an antitrust case. McKnight renovated the St. James and reopened it in 1958. In 1970, McKnight then transferred the theatre to his daughter Virginia and her husband James H. Binger, who had formed Jujamcyn Theaters. After Binger's death in 2004, producer and president of Jujamcyn, Rocco Landesman, announced his plans to buy the company. Landesman purchased the group in 2005, and in 2009 he sold half his stake to up and coming theatrical producer, Jordan Roth. Shortly after, Landesman was asked to head the NEA and Roth and assumed control of the group. The theatre has been home to a number of long-running and Tony Award-winning musicals in its ninety-one-year history, including original productions of Oklahoma!, The King and I, Hello, Dolly!, The Who's Tommy and The Producers. Located on 44th Street in the Theater District, the St. James neighbors a handful of large musical houses including the Majestic, Broadhurst, Shubert, and the Hayes Theater.
In 2017, the St. James completed a renovation which extended its stage by ten feet into the alley between the Hayes Theater and the St. James. The stage expansion accommodates the current Broadway run of the Disney musical Frozen.
In April and May 2013, film director Alejandro González Iñárritu spent 30 days shooting his film Birdman almost entirely within the St. James Theatre and its environs. The film depicts the production of a Broadway show during its preview nights and premiere and utilizes the theatre's stage, lobby, and backstage areas. The theatre features in the opening montage of Woody Allen's Manhattan, his "love letter" to New York City. St. James Theatre is also shown in the season 4 finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry David and David Schwimmer star in the Broadway version of The Producers. There is also a scene on the street in front of the theatre in which Larry David gets into a confrontation with a tourist played by Stephen Colbert. The theatre has also appeared in several episodes of NBC's Smash and was featured in season 5 of the FOX Television series Glee as Lea Michele's Rachel Berry stars in the revival of Funny Girl staged at the theatre.