Gone But Not Forgotten Theaters and Theater Companies Part 5 – Times Square Chronicles


In Part 1, we discussed The Pearl Co., then WPA and Circle Rep. In part three, The Hudson Theater Guild and Circle in the Square and in part 4 The American Place Theater and The Women’s Project.

The American Jewish Theater was founded by Stanley Brechner in the Upper East Side YMHA, then moved to the basement of the W. 26th St. Theater under a supermarket, which was the original home of the Roundabout. Brechner made the Israel Horovitz fountain pen trilogy in the Upper East Side space and, on W. 26th Street, exemplary covers of musicals such as Milk and honey, rags and The Rothschilds, as well as a new musical called A refined and private place (another that I had Samuel French acquire), which should have moved but didn’t, and some nice new pieces such as Born guilty by Ari Roth (who later founded Theater J in Washington, DC, a Jewish theater founded by former American Place Theater literary director Martin Blank). In the end, Brechner could only afford to do projects with the money attached (a disturbing trend off Broadway that I will discuss in another chapter), usually a guaranteed harbinger of the end, eventually falling back. and running away to Columbia with all the money he had. on the left (which I guess came from subscriptions as well as grants).

Christiane Noll and Glenn Seven Allen
in A refined and private place
(Photo © Carol Rosegg)

For many years there was a fine theater company off Broadway, the Lambs Theater Co., directed by Carolyn Rossi Copeland, which operated out of the Lambs Club in W. 44e Street. They produced shows in the smaller of the two spaces, downstairs, and rented out the larger upstairs for commercial productions. Their biggest hit in the ground floor theater was the musical Smoke on the mountain I had seen this at the McCarter Theater in Princeton during her last week and called Carolyn and asked her to see it because usually she was doing shows with a religious orientation and this one was for a group of gospel, The Sanders Family Singers, performing at a Southern Baptist Church, much to the chagrin of more conservative members but enthusiastically supported by the pastor. Carolyn couldn’t make it to the McCarter to see him there, but she invited the cast to play him for her at the Lambs and chose him on the spot. He had a long run there. The upstairs theater was an exquisite space designed by Stanford White. Some of his memorable hits were James Sherman Handsome jest, produced by Arthur Cantor and Carol Ostrow, who also produced Eileen Atkins in a one-woman show based on Virginia Woolf A room of your own. by Tina Howe Painting churches, starring Marian Seldes in one of her most memorable performances, Donald Madden and Elizabeth McGovern, originally produced by Second Stage at one of the former Theater Row theaters, moved there for successful commercial release . Incredibly, this beautiful theater was ripped off several years ago. What indignation! The Lambs Theater Co. was long gone.

Elizabeth McGovern and George N. Martin in Painting churches Photo by Martha Swope

Jewish Rep was created by Ran Avni in a small space at 14th St. YMHA, where it operated for several years before moving to Playhouse 91 in the YMHA on the Upper East Side (which no longer appears to be used for the theater. ). I have seen many memorable plays and musicals produced by the Jewish representative at WHMA and Playhouse 91, like that of Susan Sandler Delancey crossing (another gem I landed for Samuel French), directed by Joan Micklin Silver, which went on to become a blockbuster film directed by Mrs. Silver, starring Amy Irving and Peter Riegert, and the musical Theda Bara and the border rabbi, directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, who deserved a business transfer but didn’t get it. Then, several years ago, the Jewish representation disappeared. I still don’t know what happened to him.


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