Liberty Theatre

The Liberty Theatre was a Broadway theater from 1904 to 1933,[1] located at 236 West 42nd Street in New York City. It was built by the partnership of Klaw and Erlanger.[2]

Liberty Theatre
Address234 West 42nd Street
New York City
OwnerCity and State of New York
OperatorForest City Enterprises
Capacity1055 (est.)
Current useMultiple entertainment uses
OpenedOctober 10, 1904
Years active1904–1933
ArchitectHerts & Tallant
New 42nd Street

From 1933 until the late 1980s the Liberty operated continuously as a movie theatre. In 1992 the then vacant theatre was purchased by the City of New York along with many other properties as part of the New 42nd Street renovation project.

In 1996 it was used for a staged reading of T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land, with actress Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner. The New York Times review described the theater as "derelict".[3] The facade of the Liberty theater was later absorbed into Ripley's Odditorium, which is part of the Forest City Enterprises entertainment complex.[4]

In 2011, renovations were completed and the former Liberty Theatre auditorium was converted for use as a Famous Dave's restaurant.[5] The main auditorium space later became a rental event space, with the restaurant portion along 42nd Street operating as the Liberty Diner.[6]

From March 2015 to November 2015, Cynthia von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse: Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic was staged as an immersive play in the theater. The story investigates the death of silent film star and Ziegfeld Girl Olive Thomas.[7] Barring this performance, the space has sat vacant, the Liberty Diner (and thus access to the auditorium space) having been closed since 2015 when the operators lost the lease.[8]

Notable productions

See also

  • Williams, Iain Cameron. Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall. Bloomsbury Publishers, ISBN 0-8264-5893-9 The book contains detailed accounts of Adelaide Hall's work in Blackbirds of 1928 and Brown Buddies, both staged at the Liberty Theatre.


  1. "Liberty Theatre (Built: 1904 Closed: 1933)"  Internet Broadway Database (Retrieved on February 22, 2008)
  2. Liberty Theatre - Cinema Treasures
  3. Brantley, Ben (November 18, 1996). "Memory and Desire: Hearing Eliot's Passion". The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  4. New 42nd Street website Archived December 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine information on Liberty Theatre history
  5. "News Release | Famous Daves". Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  6. official site
  7. BWW News Desk (April 18, 2015). "Speakeasy Dollhouse Transforms Times Square's Liberty Theater for ZIEGFELD'S MIDNIGHT FROLIC, Beginning Tonight". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  8. Michelle Young (May 29, 2018). "Remnants of the Lost Liberty Theater in Times Square Hidden in Plain Sight". Untapped Cities.
  9. Blackbirds of 1928 starred Adelaide Hall and Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson.
  11. "Brown Buddies @ Liberty Theatre | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved July 23, 2016.

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