209 W. 45th Street,
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Architects: Herbert J. Krapp
Styles: French Renaissance
Previous Names: D.W. Griffith Theatre, Toho Cinema
The smallest of the Broadway theatres opened by the Shubert Brothers, the Bijou Theatre, which seated 603, was situated between the Morosco Theatre and Astor Theatre, and was designed by the Shubert Brothers' house architect, Herbert J. Krapp.
Designed in refined Louis XVI style inside, featuring an original color scheme of blue, ivory and gold in its auditorium, the Bijou Theatre was planned as the Theatre Francais, and was to have featured French stage classics, but at the last moment, that idea was scrapped, though the French-themed decor remained.
The Bijou Theatre opened on April 12, 1917 with the play “The Knife” and continued as a legitimate theatre until 1935, when it switched to an all-cartoon movie format, but only briefly, since by 1936, it had returned to legitimate theatre. In 1937, it once again was a movie house, but by the end of the same year, was closed.
It remained dark until 1943, when it once more hosted legitimate fare. From 1947-53, movies returned again, followed by another six years staging legitimate theatre.
In 1959, when the next-door Astor Theatre was being remodeled and enlarged, it required cutting into the Bijou Theatre’s auditorium and part of its stage, reducing seating to around 365.
The smaller theatre reopened on October 14, 1962 with its first name change in its history, the D.W. Griffith Theatre, which screened art films. On January 22, 1963 it was renamed Toho Theatre, and reopened with Akira Kurosawa’s “"The Bad Sleep Well” and it featured Japanese films.
First-run features returned in 1965, along with the theatre’s original Bijou Theatre name, and continued until 1970, when legitimate theatre once again made a comeback, although just as quickly, so did movies. During the early-to-mid-1970’s, both live and screen entertainment alternated every year or so at the Bijou Theatre, until 1977, when stage shows returned until the Bijou Theatre closed in 1981.
A year later, it, along with the Morosco Theatre, Astor Theatre and a couple other theaters, were all razed to clear the way for a new hotel.
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