Soon, two of Detroit's big three will have their names in lights on Broadway.
Following the example of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, The Shubert Organization will change the name of the 91 year-old Winter Garden Theatre to the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre.
The name of Cadillac, a division of General Motors, is already emblazoned on a Chicago theatre, the Cadillac Palace.
Cadillac would not specify how much it had paid for the naming rights except to say it was a "multi-million-dollar, multi-year deal." The money will be paid out over the course of the contract.
The Cadillac Winter Garden will be the third Broadway house to bear a corporate name (all of them of transportation giants). The first two were: the Ford Center, a musical house cobbled together by the defunct Livent from the old Lyric and Apollo theatres; and the American Airlines Theatre, home of the Roundabout Theatre Company and formerly the Selwyn Theatre. The Winter Garden, however, will be the first continuously operating Broadway house to be rechristened with a corporate moniker. The Apollo, Lyric and Selwyn had not seen legitimate stage activity for decades before begin reclaimed in the 1990s. As part of the new partnership, Cadillac will be the official car of the Shubert theatres. Cadillac will hang new marquees on the Broadway and Seventh Avenue sides of the theatre this summer. The theatre's name change, however, is effective immediately.
The Winter Garden is currently home to Mamma Mia!. The theatre, a former cattle barn, opened on March 20, 1911, with La Belle Paree, starring Al Jolson. Jolson would star in many Winter Garden shows. The house was also home to several additions to "The Ziegfeld Follies" and "The Passing Show" revue series. Hellzapoppin' and West Side Story were big hits there. Other famous productions included Mame and Follies. Its most famous tenant was Cats, which played there from 1982 until 2000.
The Shubert Organization owns 16 theatres on Broadway and co-owns the Music Box theatre.
Manhattan Theatre Club has announced plans to sell the naming rights for the Biltmore Theatre, which the Off Broadway company is currently restoring.
—By Robert Simonson