At Broadway Up Close we love a field trip opportunity, whether it's to see a show, go backstage, or to visit an important NYC landmark. In the last six years we've been to a lot of one-of-a-kind places but we really outdid ourselves on our last trip to, none other than, The Shubert Archives! If you've ever been on our ACT II Tour then you've heard about this treasure trove of information and artifacts from Broadway's past. Full of costumes, photos, correspondence, contracts and everything in between, The Archives are a Broadway lover's dream come true. And with that much fragile Broadway history in one place, it is protected and preserved beautifully by a wonderful staff of archivists. Thankfully for us, they allowed some of our BUC team members to get a glimpse at some of the items in their collection - needless to say, we were all in paradise from the moment we arrived!
The Shubert Archives are housed in the Frohman apartment once occupied by producer Daniel Frohman and his actress-wife Margaret Illington. To gain access, the Frohmans had a a passenger elevator installed just off the main staircase to the Mezzanine level of seats. The best thing about the elevator? It's STILL THERE! In the photo above you can see the black door to the elevator that we all took turns journeying through to begin our ascent to the Archives above. To stand in the exact footsteps of Mr. Frohman and his wife 113 years later was a dream come true!
Once we were upstairs we were inundated with photos, costumes and Tony Awards that the staff had pulled for us to see. Where did we, a group of actors, instantly gravitate to? The Tony Awards case, of course! To our surprise and delight, we even got to hold the Tony Awards they had and one by one we all got to practice our acceptance speeches for when we each individually win the big prize some day...did I mention we were in Broadway heaven?!
After learning more about the Shubert Brothers who created the Shubert empire starting in the year 1900, we were treated to old photographs of a number of their theaters (our favorite!), original architectural drawings of some of the facades we talk about on our itineraries and even one of the red skirts worn by the final Cassie in A Chorus Line in 1991 at The Shubert Theater.
And the final display they had prepared for us? The costumes, wigs and makeup designs from the original run of CATS at the Wintergarden Theater! I've never been a Cats - The Musical super-fan myself, but I marveled at the Cats knowledge in the brains of all of my BUC team! They knew the names of every cat and could even pick out each cat based on the wigs! They all looked the same to me, but perhaps that's because I'm a dog person!
As we made our way out of the Archives, we couldn't help but pinch ourselves once we were back on the sidewalks of 45th Street. With our first hand accounts we can now share our stories of the Frohman apartment and The Shubert Archives with each and every one of our ACT II tour-goers so you can feel as if you were there with us. And frankly, that's why I created Broadway Up Close - so Broadway enthusiasts can get "up close" like never before!
See you on the sidewalks!
-Tim "The Tour Guide" Dolan