245 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
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The Virginia Theatre is located on the north side of 52nd Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. It is number 2 on The Broadway Map.
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Most Broadway houses were built by wealthy impresarios, but the Virginia Theatre had a different sort of beginning. It was designed to be home to the Theatre Guild, a popular repertory company that included such distinguished members as the Lunts and Edward G. Robinson. The company named its new space the Guild Theatre and opened it in 1925 with George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. For nearly 20 years, the Guild had its ups and downs, and eventually after a series of flops they finally leased the theater to WOR Mutual Radio in 1943. The American National Theatre and Academy bought the place in 1950, renovated it, and re-named it the ANTA Playhouse. They presented a number of acclaimed plays, including Pultizer Prize winner J.B., A Man for All Seasons, Blues for Mister Charlie, The Owl and the Pussycat, and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. In addition to its own productions, the ANTA also hosted touring companies such as the Dancers of Bali, and Alvin Ailey and Paul Taylor's dance troupes; from '53 to '55, the space was leased to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1981, Jujamcyn bought the playhouse and named it the Virginia Theatre after Jujamcyn Theatres co-owner Virginia Binger.
The Virginia Theatre has a large, long lobby, and adjoining it is a comfortable lounge area. When the audience is packed in and milling around the space before and after shows, the low lighting and earthy tones make it feel almost like an upscale bar or club. Inside the theater, the walls have a unique textured, sponge-like paint job. The box seats are unusually high up, and rather than jutting out as boxes usually do, they recede into the wall and are literally fenced in. At the extreme right and left front sides of the orchestra there are handsome Roman arches and columns, behind which are exits. Upstairs, there is an exit that leads to an outdoor stairwell -- on a warm night, it's a nice place to stand for a few moments to admire the view of 52nd Street.
By subway, take the C/E to 50th Street, walk north on Eight Avenue and then turn right onto 52nd Street. Or take the 1/9 to 50th Street, walk north on Broadway and then make a left onto 52nd Street.
In the Virginia Theatre, which at just under 1,300 seats is a mid-size theater, the best views are from the middle and front orchestra and the front mezzanine.
Past productions at the Virginia Theatre, when it was called the Guild Theatre, included The Glass Slipper, Marco Millions, Right You Are if You Think You Are, The Garrick Gaieties, Green Grow the Lilacs, Mourning Becomes Electra, Ah, Wilderness!, I Have Been Here Before, The Merchant of Yonkers, and The Time of Your Life. As the ANTA Theatre: The Great Sebastians, Say, Darling, J.B., A Man for All Seasons, Blues for Mister Charlie, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Purlie, Bubbling Brown Sugar, and Night and Day. Since being re-named the Virginia Theatre, notable productions have included Carrie, Run For Your Wife, City of Angels, Jelly's Last Jam, Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Wild Party, and Little Women.