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Home » HISTORY » CONNECTICUT » Broadway's New England Roots
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Broadway's New England Roots

Historic Photos of Broadway, New York Theater, 1850-1970, Turner Publishing

By Peter F. Demers | July 25, 2010

The history of the Broadway stage has very strong New England roots.

How many of the truly great Broadway musicals had their debuts on either a Boston or New Haven stage? At least two of Broadway’s greatest playwrights, Eugene O’Neil and Tennessee Williams, wrote their masterpieces in Provincetown. The connection between Broadway and New England is so deep that when a really fine coffee table book about the history of Broadway is published, it reminds us all of the tremendous impact and influence that New England has had on the development of American theater.

Historic Photos of Broadway, New York Theater, 1850-1970 by Leonard Jacobs provides a broad sweep pictorial history that includes not only the great plays, musicals, playwrights and actors, but also chronicles some of the producers and landmark theaters that made Broadway one of the theater’s international capitals. All of the photographs contained in the book can be found in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, but many have never been published before.

With photographs of early theaters like the “Niblo’s Garden” on the corner of Broadway and Prince Streets and actors Junius Brutus Booth and his son, Edwin, to the cast of “Hair”, the coffee table sized book is filled with pictures and information. What sets the book apart from other similar publication is not only the fascinating assemblage of photographs and informational anecdotes but how they are organized to provide even those even those casually interested in theatrical history with an understanding on how Broadway became what we know it today.

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