219 West 49th StreetNew York, NY
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Vice President of Theatre Operations, Shubert Organization
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
For tickets & showtimes,visit www.broadway.org
The Ambassador Theatre was the first of six planned theaters between 48th and 49th Streets built by the Shuberts in an effort to expand their holdings in the Broadway theater district.
Only four theaters were built and the Ambassador is one of three that remain. The theater’s simple exterior of patterned brick and a rounded entrance corner reflected the needs of the Shuberts, speculative owner/builders who were interested in functional theater design. Many important actors, including Spencer Tracy, Danny Kaye, and George C. Scott, made their stage debuts during the theater’s heyday. Since the 1970s, the Ambassador has staged significant works that examine and celebrate the African-American experience, such as Eubie, Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, Top Dog Under Dog, and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.
Herbert J. Krapp was the most prolific theater designer on Broadway; he was the architect for fifteen of the remaining forty Broadway theaters. Krapp studied at Cooper Union and started his career at Herts & Tallant, where he met the Shubert brothers.
Krapp became the Shubert brothers’ house architect and designed twelve theaters for them. He also designed six theaters for the Chanin brothers. Krapp was famous for his ability to work with low budgets and small or awkward plots of land. For example, Krapp designed a diagonal floor plan for the Ambassador Theatre to fit it into an awkward space.
He innovated the use of stadium seating, first seen in the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Krapp often used most of his budget on the interiors of his theaters. While he left the exteriors relatively bare, he used elaborate brickwork to add visual interest for a small cost. Examples of this brickwork can be seen on the exteriors of the Broadhurst and the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatres. Krapp's career as a theater designer ended with the bust of the theater boom during the Depression. He transitioned to industrial design and became a building assessor for New York City. He also continued to work with the Shuberts until 1963 as the supervisor of existing venue maintenance and renovations.
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