Bijou Theatre (Manhattan)

Two Broadway theatres have been named the Bijou Theatre.

1239 Broadway

The Theatre Brighton,[1] at 1239 Broadway between 30th and 31st Streets, had been converted from a drinking and gambling establishment into a theatre for variety, and opened August 26, 1878 with Jerry Thomas as proprietor.[2] The house had many changes and names until John A. McCaull, a Baltimore lawyer, and Charles E. Ford took charge of it. Considerable money was spent and when they reöpened the house on March 31, 1880, as the Bijou Opera-house, it looked like a modern and well-regulated theatre.[3][4] In 1881 and 1882, Lillian Russell appeared in three different operettas.[5][6]

But the house proved too small to be profitable,[note 1] so after the performance of July 7, 1883 preparations for tearing it down were at once commenced:[7] R. E. J. Miles and Gen. W. B. Barton leased the premises for five years from its owner, Edward F. James. They agreed to advance sufficient funds to erect a new house, which was designed by J. B. McElfatrick & Son and opened December 1, 1883 as the Bijou Theatre.[8] The first production was Orpheus and Eurydice, an adaption by Max Freeman of Jacques Offenbach's Orfée aux enfers."[9][10][11]

Adonis, starring Henry E. Dixey, played its record-breaking run of 603 performances at the Bijou beginning September 4, 1884. Another long run was The Music Master, starring David Warfield, transferred from the Belasco Theatre on January 9, 1905,[12] and playing 511 performances, for a total at the two theaters of 635, before closing September 29, 1906. The next big hit was A Gentleman from Mississippi, starring Thomas A. Wise and Douglas Fairbanks, which opened September 29, 1908.[13] From June 29 to August 7, 1909, it played at the Aerial Gardens atop the New Amsterdam Theatre, with new scenery and costumes,[14] moving back to the Bijou August 9. After giving its 400th performance (counting the Aerial Gardens) on August 25, the play closed on September 18.[15][16]

The Bijou was later used as a silent movie house. It was demolished in 1915 and replaced by the present high-rise office building, which opened in 1917.[17][18][19]

Selected shows

209 West 45th Street

The second Bijou Theatre was built by the Shubert family in 1917 at 209 W. 45th Street in New York City.[20][21][22] It was one of three theaters that hosted the premiere season of the musical Fancy Free—but primarily it presented plays by many writers, including Sacha Guitry, John Galsworthy, A. A. Milne, James M. Barrie, Herman J. Mankiewicz, Leslie Howard, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, Luigi Pirandello, Graham Greene, Eugene O'Neill, William Saroyan, and Seán O'Casey.

In 1950, as the Bijou, it hosted one film, Cyrano de Bergerac, starring José Ferrer.[23]

In 1951, it became a CBS radio studio, thenas the D. W. Griffith Theatreit presented art films. It was reinstated as the Bijou Theatre in 1965, but was demolished in 1982 to make room for the Marriott Marquis Hotel.


Short citations

  1. The Sun (New York). August 25, 1878.
  2. Brown:273
  3. Brown:274
  4. The New York Times. April 1, 1880
  5. The Sun (New York). October 30, 1881
  6. The New York Times. 1881-10-30, 1881-12-20, and June 6, 1882
  7. The New York Times. July 29, 1883
  8. Real Estate Record. July 21, 1883
  9. Brown:281
  10. The New York Times. August 19, 1883
  11. The Sun (New York). December 2, 1883
  12. The New York Times. January 10, 1905
  13. The New York Times. September 30, 1908
  14. The Sun (New York). June 30, 1909
  15. The Sun (New York). August 22, 1909.
  16. The Sun (New York). September 10, 1909.
  17. Kenrick
  18. Internet Broadway Database website. "Bijou Theatre"
  19. Emporis website
  20. Internet Broadway Database website. "Toho Cinema"
  21. Cinema Treasures website. "Bijou Theatre"
  22. The New York Times. April 13, 1917
  23. The New York Times. November 17, 1950


  1. The plot is only 40 feet wide. See The New York Times. January 10, 1915.

Full citations

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