219 West 48th Street / NYC
Ritz (Walter Kerr) Theatre
Changed Name to Walter Kerr: 1990
Ritz Theatre / Walter Kerr Theatre (1990)
The Ritz (Walter Kerr) Theatre is located on 48th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.
Architect Herbert J. Krapp designed the Walter Kerr Theatre (then the Ritz) in the Italian Renaissance style. When Jujamcyn
bought the theater in the early 1980s, they put it through two major refurbishments, not only re-making it into a legitimate
Broadway house but also restoring the gorgeous interior, which has sumptuous colors, captivating designs, and moody
lighting that creates a candle-lit effect inside the theater. The men's and women's restrooms, which are adequate
(containing a decent number of stalls), are inconveniently situated on opposite landings between the orchestra and
mezzanine levels. Outside, there are two cheesy yet charming marquees proclaiming in colorful lights that this is indeed
the Walter Kerr Theatre.
The Walter Kerr Theatre was only fairly recently given its new name, that of the beloved former New York Times drama critic.
When it first opened in 1921, the theater was called the Ritz and housed plenty of hit plays, some notable revivals, and even a
few productions from the Federal Theatre Project during the Great Depression, but few of the shows that debuted at the Ritz
are well-remembered today. From the late '30s and on into the '70s, the theater went through an identity crisis, being used
alternately as a radio and TV studio, a performance space, and, at one point, a movie house named the Robert F. Kennedy
Children's Theatre. Since becoming the Walter Kerr in 1990, this theater has given us some of our greatest contemporary
dramas. Four of the plays in August Wilson's ambitious 10-play cycle have been here: The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running,
Seven Guitars , and most recently the final installment, Gem of the Ocean . Acclaimed works like Love! Valour! Compassion!,
The Beauty Queen of Leenane , and Take Me Out were all produced here, as well as Pulitzer Prize winners Proof and Doubt .
The Walter Kerr Theatre's crown jewel has undoubtedly been Tony Kushner's Angels in America , the epic two-part drama which for a year
ran in repertory here to great success.
Programs available from this theatre (as The Ritz):
Murder in the Cathedral (1938)
Young Blood (1926)