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New York: Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Politics: Broadway's Legendary Palace Theatre Is Ready For Showtime After

POLITICS: Broadway’s legendary Palace Theatre is ready for showtime after a face-lift

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Palace ready for stage royalty

Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Sharon Osbourne? Please. When you mention face-lift, talk NYC’s 7,000-ton Palace Theatre redo.

B’way’s Grande Dame — built 1913 and opened current form 1966 — its historic stage once commanded by Will Rogers, Ethel Barrymore, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte, Lillian Russell, Elvis Presley — reopened Tuesday night 7 p.m. Last headliner — SpongeBob.

Its glory day kingmaker? The late James Nederlander who produced over 100 Broadway shows, has a West 41st theater in his name, whose production organization now run by his son J.L. Nederlander (Jimmy) and who with the Palace’s partner Stewart Lane OK’d this seven-year-long $2.5 billion renovation.

I was invited there — privately — before its reopening, which starred Tony, Emmy, Grammy winner Ben Platt. Lines around the block waiting to get in, while builders, techies and stage people moved me around.

Uplifting scene

This entire building’s been raised up 30 feet. Entrance walls? Today, it’s painted fabric.

NYC mother lode Times Square is considered such valuable real estate that below where the theater once took root, there will now be retail space.

Who knows what — but this holy area where maybe Russell once might’ve hung her gowns, could this maybe be where you might soon buy a stuffed teddy bear?

“I don’t know,” said Jimmy. “I’m just grateful I survived this.”

The theater’s famous Seventh Avenue entrance has shifted to West 47th Street. The main level? Actually got elevated 3 feet.

1967’s creaky old steps from backstage to the freshly enlarged stage? Bye-bye. Now a new elevator. Only 40 seats were lost.

The brand-new rests are all blue plush. I sat my not brand-new behind in one. Wider, more comfortable.

Spotlights are embedded in glass high above, in what’s called “The Attic” of the theater. Its famous carved ceiling restored.

Above your head a huge specially created chandelier. Below your feet a freshly created carpet in blue plush.

A big thing for the old broads at the short intermissions? The Can. Always the Can.

Ladies’ room lines were historically so long that unless you were born there — no time to wash your hands.

This extravagant new building’s historically shiny new 2024 ladies’ loo? Huge, gorgeous. Should there even someday be some lousy show, it’ll still be a pleasure to pee.

Original 25-year-old seats — 1,725. Now, 1,668. That excludes the private lounge for Jimmy and his wife Margo to entertain — hopefully, me.

Then, down steps, around machinery, up some hidden gangway, past a plate of bagels was Platt, who’d recently starred in Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Styling a revival

I waltzed into his private dressing room. A hairdresser was doing that head.

So his food before this momentous appearance?

“For energy. Protein. You need that for performing. It was a bowl of chicken, sweet potatoes and rice. I’ve been rehearsing five days. I’ll do a tribute to Liza and Judy. And I’ll wear blue, which is very calming. It’s my favorite color.”

The hairdresser never stopped hairdressing.

OK, so what color are his drawers?

“My underwear’s Calvin Klein. And it’s black.”

The hairdresser never stopped hairdressing.

If giving your regards to Broadway, first send them to the new Palace Theatre.



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