Shubert Theatre - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
N 42° 21.011 W 071° 03.917
19T E 329895 N 4690723
Quick Description: Known as "The Little Princess" of Boston's theater district, the Shubert opened in 1910, launching a tradition of classic dramatic productions, often featuring world-renowned actors. In the mid-90's it underwent an extensive $3 million renovation.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 9/26/2009 11:02:17 PM
Waymark Code: WM7AD4
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member SowerMan
Views: 4

Long Description:

From Live Broadway

The Theatre was originally conceived as The Lyric Theatre in the early 1900s by developer Charles H. Bond. Mr. Bond's sudden death resulted in the project's abandonment until New York City's Shubert Organization stepped in and purchased the property in the spring of 1908.

Two years later, the newly christened Shubert Theatre opened on January 24, 1910 with performances by America's then most popular actors, E.H. Sothern and Julia Marlowe, in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

Boston was abuzz with excitement over the opening of its newest Theatre, designed by noted Boston architect Thomas M. James. The new Theatre featured an ornate marble entryway, Florentine doors, ionic pillars, gold ornamental relief work in the spirit of the French Renaissance and a chandelier copied from those in the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

A 1925 widening of Tremont Street resulted in the loss of the Theatre's magnificent facade and a shortening of its front lobby. Despite such cosmetic changes, The Shubert Theatre's intimate interior continued to make it perfect for pre-Broadway tryouts. Throughout the following four decades, such classics as The King and I, South Pacific, Camelotand Mame played at the Theatre prior to their Broadway debuts.

Many renowned stage actors, including Al Jolson, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, John Barrymore, Richard Burton, Mary Martin and Julie Andrews have graced the stage since its grand opening. More recently, The Shubert has hosted such Broadway sensations as Cats, Dreamgirls, Les Misarables, Carousel and Rent.

The renovated Shubert Theatre was unveiled on October 10, 1996. Since then, The Shubert Theatre has evolved into a home for Boston arts organizations such as Boston Lyric Opera and World Music, as well as a venue for touring companies whose productions are more suited to the smaller scale of the theatre.


The Sam S. Shubert Theatre is one of the contributing buildings to the Piano Row District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

From the NRHP Narrative Description in Midtown Cultural District Historic Buildings

Sam S. Shubert Theatre

Opening 1/24/1908

Architect James Hill and Whitaker
Builder W.H. Kayes & Co.

Symetrical, classically-inspired 1925 theatre entrance featuring original 1910 wrought iron and glass marquee. Second story dominated by central Palladian-motif window with finely carved tympanum. Elevation terminated by modillion cornice and parapet with blind balustrade over center bay.

The Shubert is significant as a well-preserved example of the early 20th century Adamesque theatre interior and as the scene of many notable theatrical performances. Its marquee is important as the last of its kind in Boston.

The eclectic interior, inspired by the palace at Versailles and the Louis XIV, XV and XVI periods, accommodates 1500 and has been praised for its comfortable seats, coziness and "mellow richness." Lobby paintings after Boucher are by Henry Bodge. Pennell, architect, also involved with interiors at the Wilbur, Colonial and Majesti. Pennell's firm, Pennell, Gibbs & Quiring, did interior decoration

The principal architect, Thomas M. James (1875-1942) practiced with Clinton M. Hill before organizing, in 1909, his own architectur and engineering firm specializing in banks. He also designed the Union-Warren Savings and present Post Office in the theatre area. In 1925 Tremont St. was widened by 20 ft. along the west side of the Shubert block, and action requiring demolition or alteration of all buildings on the Shubert sid. The marble-faced James facade was replaced by the present limetone entrance, with original marquee from 1910 re-erected.

The Shubert was built for drama and opened with Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" starring E.H. Sothern and Julia Marlow. Theatrical highpoints have included the first Boston performance by John Gielgud, Maurice Evans and Sir Lawrence [sic] Olivier and the 1917 performance by John Barrymore, one of the greatest 19th century Am. actors.

The theatre was named for Sam S. Shubert, called, "the founder of the independent theatre movement," oldest of three Shubert brothers and the first to become involved in theatre management in the 1880's. After Sam's death in a train wreak in 1905, his brothers Lee and Jacob went on to dominate legitimate theatre in the 1st half of the 20th century, controlling at one time the Plymouth, Copley, Majestic, Colonial, Wilbur and Boston Opera House as well as the Shubert.

The theatre was begun by Chas. H. Bond, but taken over during construction by the Shuberts after Bond's untimely death.


In 1996 The Shubert, along with the historic Wang Theatre across the street, became part of the Citi Performing Arts Center, and underwent and extensive renovation project which restored "The Little Princess" to much of its former glory.

From the Citi Performing Arts Center

After signing a long-term lease with the Shubert Oranization in New York for the Shubert Theatre in Boston, a $3 million rnovation project was announced. With the collaboration of Graham Gund Architects and Tishman Construction Corporation, this renovation project began.

The renovation included a whole new look featuring cosmetc and technical improvements, enhanced patron amenities, improved performance facilities and greater accisibility for disabled persons. The orchestra pit was enlarged and acoustically improved, which can no accommodate up to 67 musicians. Improvements also included a new sprung stage perfect for dance.

Part of the $3 million renovation project included the restoration of the Petit Trianon-style grand chandelier in the main auditiorium. The Shubert's interior was changed to reflect the theatre's early 1900's feel, with a palette of soft white colors and gold leaf accents throughout, new plush red carpeting complete the theatre's intimate and delicate style.

Text of the Historical Marker


The Shubert Theatre was designed by architects Charles Bond and Thomas James. It opened on January 24, 1910 and has enjoyed a rich history of world premiers and memorable performances. International stars who have appeared on tis stage include Sarah Bernhardt. W.C. Fields, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison, Zero Mostel, Helen Hayes and Cary Grant.

Boston Theatre District


The reference above to Charles Bond as one of the architects seems to be in error. It is likely that this was " Charles H. Bond, a Saugus native and philanthropist who made a fortune by overseeing the Waitt and Bond Cigar Manufacturers company that operated on Lincoln Avenue in the late 19th century." There is even a legend about a haunting of the Saugus city hall, a community north of Boston. See A tale of two cigar-smoking ghosts

Theater Name: Shubert Theatre

Country: United States

207 Tremont St.
Boston, MA United States

Web Site: [Web Link]

Venue: Private Theater

Type of Productions:
Classic Drama Broadway Productions Opera

Restored Building: yes

Date of Construction: 1910

Architect/Designer: Thomas M. James

Stage Type: Thrust

Seating Capacity: 1500

Special Productions/Events/Festivals: Not listed

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