New Victory Theater

New Victory Theater
The New Victory Theater in 2006

The New Victory Theater is an Off-Broadway theater located at 209 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, in Midtown Manhattan. The New Victory is New York's first and only theater for children and family audiences. The New Victory programs a full season of theater, dance, puppetry, circus, opera, physical theater and other types of performance art, presenting companies from around the world.


Early History

Built by Oscar Hammerstein I, and designed by architect Albert Westover, the theater opened as the Theatre Republic [1][2][3] on September 27, 1900, with Lionel Barrymore in James Herne's play Sag Harbor. It was the first theater built on West 42nd Street.

Two years later the house was leased by David Belasco,[2][3] who renamed it the Belasco Theatre. Belasco produced a series of plays at the theater starring George Arliss, Mary Pickford, and Lillian Gish.

In 1910 the name Theatre Republic was reinstated when Belasco renamed his Stuyvesant Theatre on West 44th Street for himself. The Republic's most famous tenant during this time was the play Abie's Irish Rose, which ran for 2,327 performances between 1922 and 1927.

Billy Minsky[2][3] converted the Republic into Broadway's first burlesque house in 1931, calling it Minsky's Burlesque. It remained as such until 1941. Minsky built a double runway down the middle of the auditorium for his strippers, the most famous of whom was Gypsy Rose Lee.

In 1942, it became a movie theater called the Victory Theatre, patriotically named in honor of the World War II conflict.[2][3] In 1972, as the neighborhood gradually disintegrated, it became the first theater on 42nd Street to exhibit pornographic films.[1] In the early 1990s, the Victory returned to legitimate theater, using its stage space as a venue for offering plays by non-profit companies. It presented the En Garde Arts company's production of the play Crowbar in 1990 and in 1991 the Theater for a New Audience offered Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, followed by other productions.[4]

New Victory Theater

In 1990, New York City, together with the State of New York, jointly took possession of the Victory. In 1992, it was one of seven 42nd Street theaters to fall under the auspices of The New 42nd Street, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation set up to oversee the redevelopment of these historic theaters and operate three projects: The New 42nd Street Studios, The Duke on 42nd Street and The New Victory Theater.

The Victory was the first theater to be restored in an effort to revitalize 42nd Street and Times Square, and between 1994 and 1995 it underwent an $11.4 million renovation headed by Hugh Hardy of the architectural firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates[2]. The restoration included rebuilding the original exterior double staircase that had been removed by Minsky, and returning the rest of the theater to much the way it looked during the Belasco era.

On December 11, 1995, the refurbished theater, renamed The New Victory Theater, opened as New York's first theater for kids and families. Its programming includes theatre, concerts, dance, circus arts, and puppetry. Upon its reopening, it became once more the oldest operating theater in New York City.

Education Department

The New Victory Theater's Education programs are committed to creating ever-widening avenues of opportunity for young people, their families and teachers to grow professionally and personally through the arts. These programs include: The New Victory Education Partnership Program,[5] which subsidizes ticket costs to $2 per student and offers pre and post-performance workshops in schools; New Vic in the Classroom,[6] which runs classroom workshops and in-school residency programs; New Vic Studio,[7] where Teaching Artists teach skills inspired by the current production to families; and The New Vic/New 42 Youth Corps.[8] The Youth Corps is made up of two programs, The Usher Corp and The New 42 Apprentice Program, both of which provide about 28,000 hours of paid part-time jobs to students in high school through graduate school.

In 2005, the theater was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[9][10]

New Victory Arts Award

The New Victory Arts Award recognizes a person or organization that has used their public position and powers of persuasion to help bring kids to the arts and the arts to kids.

In 2010, The New 42nd Street Gala will present Bill Irwin with the first ever New Victory Arts Award, in recognition of his monumental work introducing children to the arts.[11] In 2011, Cheryl Henson will receive the New Victory Arts Award in recognition of her graceful advocacy and support of puppetry and puppeteers. Cheryl Henson is the daughter of Jim Henson and the President of the Jim Henson Foundation.

Film location

Before The New 42nd Street, Inc. took over the theater's lease in the early 1990s, several films were shot at the Victory Theatre. In Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, the scene where Robert De Niro takes Cybill Sheppard to the movies was shot there. The scene's exterior shot shows them entering the former Lyric Theatre, which was next door. Scenes in Woody Allen's 1993 film Manhattan Murder Mystery were also filmed there. Toward the end of the movie, Diane Keaton’s character is held hostage in the Victory's dressing rooms and the finale of the film was shot on the stage.

The exterior of the New Victory Theater is shown in the 1998 film The Siege starring Denzel Washington. A woman walks down the theater's grand staircase with one arm missing after an explosion.

For the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey were filmed outside the theater, on the staircase and on the main floor of the auditorium. These scenes were cut from the film but are included as deleted scenes on the DVD. An episode of Sex and the City filmed scenes in the theater.

Video Game

The façade of The New Victory Theater is in the video game Grand Theft Auto 4. During the sequence is "Liberty City's" fictionalized 42nd Street/Times Square sequence, the theater is featured. In the video game, the theater is called the Liberteen and presents shows like “Banging Trash Can Lids for an Hour.”


  1. ^ a b Theatre Republic (New Victory) at the Internet Broadway Database
  2. ^ a b c d e White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot; AIA Guide to New York City, 4th edition; New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. 2000. ISBN 0-8129-31069-8; ISBN 0-8129-3107-6. p.256.
  3. ^ a b c d Kenneth T. Jackson, The Encyclopedia of New York City The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 1170.
  4. ^ "The Victory Theater". New 42nd Street. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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