The new names honor the men who have guided the theatre-owning and producing giant, The Shubert Organization. The public unveiling of the new marquees — with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dame Edna, movie and stage star Hugh Jackman and the cast of Avenue Q in attendance — is set for 7:30 PM.
Schoenfeld has been the chairman of the Shubert Organization since 1972.
Bernard B. Jacobs was president of the Shubert Organization from 1972 until his death in 1996.
Also in the mix at the outdoor ceremony on 45th Street will be New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and the Board of Directors of the Shubert Organization, Inc.
Michael I. Sovern will speak on behalf of the Shubert Board. The Plymouth (home to Brooklyn, the musical) is at 236 W. 45th Street, the Royale (home to Glengarry Glen Ross) is a few doors down at 242 W. 45th Street.
The Shubert board took the action to rename their houses at a Sept. 30, 2004, meeting "to recognize the outstanding contributions to the company, the theatre community and the City of New York made by Mr. Schoenfeld and Mr. Jacobs."
At 7:30 PM West 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue will be closed to traffic during the dedication ceremony, which will take place directly in front of the two theatres. A crowd of 600 invited guests is expected to attend.
"Mr. Schoenfeld and Mr. Jacobs committed themselves and the organization to a vigorous participation in community and civic affairs in a continuing effort to renew the theatre district and the surrounding area of Times Square," according to The Shubert Organization. "They have been organizers and catalysts in the effort to effect the changes required to reverse the trend of deterioration of the midtown area. For more than 25 years, Mr. Schoenfeld has served as Chairman of the Mayor's Midtown Citizens Committee."
The Shubert Organization owns and/or operates theatres in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The firm's notable productions and co-productions include Cats, Sunday in the Park With George, Dreamgirls, The Grapes of Wrath, The Heidi Chronicles, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Song and Dance, Lettice and Lovage, Dancin', Amadeus, The Gin Game, An Inspector Calls, Passion, Indiscretions, Closer, Amy's View, The Blue Room, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Dirty Blonde, Dance of Death and Amour.
The Shubert Organization "pioneered the use of credit cards and automated ticketing services." It was instrumental in the creation of the TKTS ticket booth in Duffy Square. Recently, the Shubert Organization built and opened its first Off-Broadway theatre, the Little Shubert on West 42nd Street. It's currently home to Shockheaded Peter.
The Plymouth Theatre, to be renamed the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, was built in 1917. Its history includes such plays as What Price Glory?, Pride and Prejudice, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, The Caine Mutiny, The Odd Couple, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and Equus, featuring such players as John Barrymore, Laurette Taylor, Tallulah Bankhead, Mary Martin, Yul Brynner, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.
The Royale Theatre, to be renamed the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, was built in 1927. Its history includes such plays as Diamond Lil, The Magnificent Yankee, The Corn is Green, The Glass Menagerie, The Front Page, DuBarry Was a Lady and The Entertainer, featuring such players as Mae West, Bert Lahr, Bette Davis, Ethel Merman, James Dean, Julie Andrews, John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier.
The Board members of the Shubert Organization are John Kluge, Gerald Schoenfeld, Lee J. Seidler, Philip J. Smith, Michael I. Sovern, Stuart Subotnick and Irving M. Wall.
The newly christened Schoenfeld and Jacobs Theatres will not be the only Broadway houses named after a theatre owner and/or producer. In 1980, the stage-owning Nederlander family changed the name of the Trafalgar Theatre to the Nederlander Theatre (after the company's founder and patriarch David Nederlander). Other Broadway houses named after producers and theatre owners include the Cort (after John Cort), the Belasco (after David Belasco), the John Golden and the Virginia (named after Virginia M. Binger, the late owner of the Jujamcyn theatre-owning organization).
The one-time important producer and theatre builder, Martin Beck, recently lost his claim to a Broadway house, when the West 45th Street theatre named after him was reborn as the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, after the pen-and-ink chronicler of Broadway history.
Other Broadway theatres have been named after critics (Brooks Atkinson, Walter Kerr), philanthropists (Vivian Beaumont) and actors (Ethel Barrymore, Henry Miller, Booth, Lunt-Fontanne, Helen Hayes). Playwrights and composers are remembered on but five theatres: the Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Eugene O'Neill, Neil Simon and the Broadhurst, named after the now obscure English-born dramatist.
Only time will tell if the newly named theatres will become the "Gerry" and the "Bernie."