Photos: Inside the Renovated, and 29 Feet Higher, Palace Theatre on Broadway | Playbill

Photo Features Photos: Inside the Renovated, and 29 Feet Higher, Palace Theatre on Broadway

The historic venue has been closed since 2018, and now it's reopening its doors.

The Palace Theatre Mia McDonald

One of Broadway's most historic theatres—the Palace, smack dab in the middle of Times Square—has been out of commission since 2018. After SpongeBob SquarePants finished up its run, the theatre went dark so that the entire structure could be hoisted intact 29 feet in the air, creating new street-level retail space in the process. 

And now, the ribbon has been cut, and the Palace is officially back.

Originally opened in 1913, the theatre's first life was as one of the most successful and influential vaudeville houses in the country. Bringing an act to the Palace was thought of as one of the pinnacle achievements of a vaudeville career. Artists who headlined at the Palace include such luminaries of yore as Will Rogers, Bert Williams, The Marx Brothers, Fanny Brice, Eva Tanguay, and Ethel Waters.

And that rich history is why such an unusual process had to be taken to open up the new retail space. The theatre is a protected landmark, which meant the 14 million pound structure had to be moved intact en masse, with none of its delicate plasterwork (originally designed by architecture firm Kirchoff & Rose) disturbed. 

Oddly enough, the theatre's unusual design—the auditorium is all contained as one "room"—is what allowed for the lifting process.

Get an inside look at the newly refurbished Palace Theatre in the video below.

But the "new" Palace is not all as it was before. Theatre owners, the Nederlanders, used the lift as an opportunity to implement lots of infrastructure upgrades. The theatre now has a new orchestra pit and stage lifts, some new finishes and light fixtures inspired by the original's Beaux-Arts vibe (including a new chandelier in the auditorium). Its occupancy is now 1,648, a slight decrease from the theatre's former theatre capacity of 1,740.

There's also a brand new lobby, and new backstage areas. A backstage elevator, along with some other refurbishments, also makes the Palace now the rare Broadway theatre to be fully accessible for performers. 

And then there's the really good part. Many Broadway theatres, especially ones built long ago, have (shall-we-say) insufficient bathroom situations. Not the newly refurbished Palace. There are now bathrooms on every level, and they're modern, accessible, and huge. Cue the choir of angels.

The new and improved Palace will get its first tenant with Ben Platt: Live at the Palace, a concert residency featuring the Dear Evan Hansen Tony winner that begins performances May 28. And we already know what's next, too. Elton John, James Graham, and Jake Shears' musical Tammy Faye will play the venue when it transfers to Broadway from London's West End, with performances beginning October 19.

Photos: Inside The Newly Renovated Palace Theatre

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