F, B, D to 47-50th St/Rockefeller Center
The Lyceum is Broadway's oldest continually operating legitimate theatre. Built by producer-manager David Frohman in 1903, it was purchased in 1940 by a conglomerate of producers which included George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. In 1950, the Shuberts took ownership of the theatre, and have operated it ever since.
Designed in the Beaux Arts style by architects Herts and Tallant, the building boasts a handsome gray limestone façade with six ornate Corinthian columns. The foyer features two grand staircases leading to the mezzanine, and marble finished to approximate "the marble of Athens." When it opened, the theatre featured a state-of-the-art ventilation system: the auditorium was kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter as air was passed over either ice chambers or steam coils on its way into the theatre. Above the theatre, Frohman built an apartment for himself which included a small door that offers a bird's eye view of the stage below. Legend has it that Frohman waved a white handkerchief out the open door to tell his wife, the actress Margaret Illington, that she was overacting.
Regarded by many as a crown jewel among New York's playhouses, the Lyceum has housed many new plays, revivals, and repertory companies since its inaugural production, The Proud Prince (1903). Other early shows include J. M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton (1903) (its first original play), The Other Girl (1904) starring Lionel Barrymore, A Doll's House (1906) featuring Ethel Barrymore, and The Thief (1907) with Margaret Illington. Some stars who graced the stage of the Lyceum in its early years include Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Judith Anderson, Leslie Howard, and Bette Davis.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the Lyceum's biggest hit Born Yesterday (1946) launched the stardom of Judy Holiday and ran 1,642 performances, the theatre's longest run. Other productions during this era include Kaufman and Hart's George Washington Slept Here, Clifford Odets's The Country Girl (1950) starring Uta Hagen, A Hatful of Rain (1955) with Shelley Winters, The Happiest Millionaire (1956) featuring Walter Pidgeon, Alan Bates in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1957), Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey (1960) with Angela Lansbury and Joan Plowright, and Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1961) starring Alan Bates, Robert Shaw and Donald Pleasance.
A number of repertory companies have called the Lyceum Theatre home, starting with Frohman's own company, the Association of Producing Artists (APA)-Phoenix Repertory Company from 1965-69 which produced You Can't Take It With You (1965), The School for Scandal (1966) and The Cherry Orchard (1968). Tony Randall's National Actors Theatre produced more than a dozen shows here. Lincoln Center Theatre has also staged productions of Our Town (1988), Rose (2000) starring Olympia Dukakis, Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love (2001), and Mornings at Seven (2002) (the second revival of this play at this theatre).
Other recent productions at the Lyceum include one person shows like Whoopi Goldberg (1984, 2004 revival), a tour de force which helped launch Goldberg's successful film career, Ian McKellan: A Knight Out at the Lyceum (1994), Julia Sweeney's God Said "Ha!" (1996), Mandy Patinkin in Concert (1997), and most recently, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning I Am My Own Wife (2003). There were also premieres of new plays like Athol Fugard's Master Harold...and the Boys (1982) starring Danny Glover, Harvey Feinstein's Safe Sex (1987), and Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West (1999).
Most recently, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning I Am My Own Wife (2003), Inherit the Wind (2007) with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer, Mark Twain's Is He Dead? (2007) and Neil LaBute's Reasons to Be Pretty (2009) all called the Lyceum home.