Walter Kerr Theatre in 2019
|Address||219 West 48th Street|
Manhattan, New York City
|Architect||Herbert J. Krapp|
The Walter Kerr Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 219 West 48th Street in midtown Manhattan. Designed by Herbert J. Krapp for the Shubert family, it operated as the Ritz Theatre from 1921 to 1990. In 1990, the theatre was named after Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Theatre critic Walter Kerr, and since 1980 has been owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (Jordan Roth, President). Being one of the smaller Broadway houses in the Theater District, the Walter Kerr seats 975.Hadestown is currently running at the Walter Kerr Theatre, after opening April 17, 2019.
The Shubert family engaged Herbert J. Krapp to design their Ritz Theatre in 1921. ABC operated it as a radio and then television studio between 1943 and 1965. The Shuberts sold the theatre to John Minary in 1956, who sold it to Joseph P. Blitz later that year. In 1963, a partnership including Roger Euster acquired the property; in 1964 Euster sold his stake to Leonard B. Moore. It remained vacant from 1965 to 1971, when it reopened with the musical Soon, book by Martin Duberman, which closed after three performances. It housed several productions in the next two years and even screened adult films for a period before it became a children's theater named in honor of Robert F. Kennedy in 1973. Jujamcyn Theaters acquired the property in 1980. The last production staged at the Ritz was Chu Chem in 1989. On March 5, 1990, the theatre reopened after a $2 million restoration now renamed for theater critic Walter Kerr with August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. Since then it has housed seven winners of the Tony Award for Best Play: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Angels in America: Perestroika, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Proof, Take Me Out, Doubt, and Clybourne Park. It also housed two winners of the Tony Award for Best Musical: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and its current production, Hadestown.
In 2004, after the death of Jujamcyn owner James Binger, long-time producer, and Jujamcyn president Rocco Landesman announced his intention to buy the playhouses. In February of 2005, the deal was completed. In 2009, a 50% stake in the organization was acquired by 33-year-old producer Jordan Roth. Later that same year, Roth took full control of the organization as Landesman took up the position as head of the NEA.
In October 2017, Bruce Springsteen, who had the highest-grossing tour in the world in 2016, took up residency at the theatre for an eight-week run, performing five times a week. The performances are a pared-down version of his set that he would normally perform in arenas and stadiums. Springsteen liked the idea of performing for more intimate crowds and the idea of performing on Broadway. Originally scheduled to run from October 12 through November 26, the show was extended three times, the last performance was December 15, 2018.
Springsteen on Broadway holds the box office record for the Walter Kerr Theatre. The production grossed $2,411,185 over five performances, for the week ending December 30, 2017.