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Shubert Organization Reportedly Aiming to Build New Broadway Theater

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Aug 22, 2014 02:17 PM EDT

The Shubert Organization, Broadway's biggest and most influential landlord and owner of 17 of the 40 Broadway theaters, may be adding to its empire soon. Sources told the New York Post that the company is looking to build a brand new state-of-the-art 1,500-seat theater on a lot it owns between West 45th and 46th Streets.

Forty Broadway theaters might sound like a lot, but in fact it's a tight market. We learn so often of shows ready and waiting for a theater to open up on the Great White Way so they can transfer to the big time.

And realistically, the number of theaters "in play" is less than 40, since some are locked in with long-running shows like Wicked, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, The Book of Mormon and The Phantom of the Opera. Sometimes I have to remind myself that some of those shows are still playing. But there they are, drawing crowds of tourists and occupying theaters years after year.

The Shubert Organization has been looking to expand its empire. Recently it bid to purchase the off-Broadway New World Stages complex on West 50th Street, a former movie complex where I used to go to see first-run movies at a big discount.

The reported cost of building the new Broadway house is around $150 million. It would be the first new Broadway theater built from the ground up since the Marquis Theatre in 1986.

The lot in question lies between Frankie & Johnnie's steakhouse (established 1926) and the Shuberts' Imperial Theatre, home since March 2014 of a revival of Les Misérables. The lot currently hosts a parking facility and, sometimes, vendors selling tourists trinkets out of tents.

"Tourists trinkets out of tents" – try saying that 10 times fast. And then think about what show should inaugurate the new theater. A hard-hitting new drama? A jukebox musical?

A revival of Cats that will run forever?

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TagsShubert Organization, broadway, New World Stages, Off-Broadway

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