221 West 51st StreetNew York, NY
scroll down to view more
Architectural Historian, Columbia University
Executive Vice President, Nederlander Organization
For tickets & showtimes,visit www.broadway.org
Built in 1972, The Gershwin is one of the newer theaters on Broadway, the Gershwin—with approximately 1,900 seats—is also the largest.
Originally called the Uris, after the building developers, the Uris brothers, it was the first theater to be built after the Depression and was designed by Ralph Alswang, an architect and set designer. He created a theater with enhanced seating and sight lines and state-of-the-art acoustics. During the 1983 Tony Award ceremony, the theater was renamed the Gershwin after composer George Gershwin and his brother lyricist Ira Gershwin. The opening production at the renamed theater was the musical Via Galactica starring Raul Julia. It closed after seven performances. Since then the Gershwin has presented many hit shows including The King and I and Sweeney Todd. In 2003, Wicked, one of the biggest hits on Broadway, opened.
Born in Chicago, Ralph Alswang studied at the Goodman Theatre and the Chicago Art Institute. He also studied under Robert Edmund Jones.
Alswang did not begin his career as an architect, but instead was primarily a theater and film director, designer, and producer. He designed scenery, lighting, and/or costumes for nearly one hundred Broadway productions including A Raisin in the Sun and Beyond the Fringe. His design style was naturalistic, as he did not want to distract from the theatrical work. After becoming frustrated with the limits of existing Broadway theaters, he began to branch out into exterior and interior theater design; he most notably redesigned the interior of the Palace Theatre and returned it to its original grandeur. He also designed the New Orleans Civic Center and Paul Newman's home in Westport, Connecticut.
back to top