247 West 44thNew York, NY
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Senior Vice President, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
Former Facilities Director, Majestic Theatre
Matthew A. Postal
Historian, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
President and Co-CEO, Schubert Organization
For tickets & showtimes,visit www.broadway.org
Whitney Cox, Shubert Archive
The Majestic was the last of six theaters built by the Chanin organization, in 1927, and was part of a complex with the Golden and Bernard Jacobs Theatres and the Hotel Lincoln (now the Milford Plaza Hotel) on Shubert Alley.
Conceived to house large-scale musicals, the Majestic is the largest of the three theaters, originally boasting 1,800 seats and now containing slightly more than 1,600. During the 1920s, Irwin Chanin, owner of a large construction company in New York, branched out into building theaters. Designed by Herbert J. Krapp in his more romantic and eccentric Spanish modern style, the Majestic shares a terra-cotta base and Roman brickwork above with the other two theaters. In the 1930s, the Chanins sold their interest in the three theaters to the Shuberts. During the late 1940s and 50s, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s successful musicals dominated the theater: Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, and Me and Juliet. In the 1960s, both Camelot and Golden Boy premiered at the Majestic.
Herbert J. Krapp was the most prolific theater designer on Broadway; he was the architect for fifteen of the remaining Broadway theaters. Krapp studied at Cooper Union and started his career at Herts & Tallant, where he met the Shubert brothers.
Krapp became the Shubert brothers' house architect and designed twelve theaters for them. He also designed six theaters for the Chanin brothers. Krapp was famous for his ability to work with low budgets and small or awkward plots of land. For example, Krapp designed a diagonal floor plan for the Ambassador Theatre to fit it into an awkward space. He innovated the use of stadium seating, first seen in the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Krapp often used most of his budget on the interiors of his theaters. While he left the exteriors relatively bare, he used elaborate brickwork to add visual interest for a small cost. Examples of this brickwork can be seen on the exteriors of the Broadhurst and the Gerald Schoenfeld Theaters. Krapp's career as a theater designer ended with the bust of the theater boom during the Depression. He transitioned to industrial design and became a building assessor for New York City. He also continued to work with the Shuberts until 1963 as the supervisor of existing venue maintenance and renovations.
Photo by Vandamm Studio © Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public for the Performing Arts
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