138W 48th Street (between Sixth and
Seventh Ave.s) / NYC
The Cort Theatre was built by and named for John Cort, general manager of the Northwestern Theatrical Association, a theatre
circuit centered in Seattle with playhouses scattered throughout the western US and British Columbia. A fugitive from a vaudeville
comedy team called Cort and Murphy, Cort moved from performing to management in the 1890s. The Shuberts acquired the
theatre in 1927, two years before Cort’s death.
The venue's initial production was Peg o’ My Heart (1912), starring Laurette Taylor and directed by Oliver Morosco. John Cort’s
first production at the theatre was The Princess Pat (1915), an operetta, and the first of only 12 musicals to play here (4 were
produced by Cort himself). The longest running musical at this theatre was The Magic Show (1974), which ran 1,920 performances.
Three recent musical productions include Sarafina (1988), Kat and the Kings (1999), and A Year with Frog and Toad (2002).
Early non-musical hits at the Cort gave it the reputation of being a “lucky” house. They include Roi Cooper Megrue’s first big hit,
Under Cover (1914), John Drinkwater’s Abraham Lincoln (1919) starring Frank McGlynn, and George S. Kaufman and Marc
Connelly’s Merton of the Movies (1922) with Glenn Hunter. The Cort also featured performers such as Ethel Barrymore and Henry
Daniell in The Second Mrs. Tanquerray (1924), Judith Anderson in Behold the Bridegroom (1927), and Katharine Hepburn in
These Days (1928)--The actress had only a few lines, and the play closed after 8 performances.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the Cort welcomed shows such as classic works. Lillian Gish, Osgood Perkins and Walter Connelly
in Uncle Vanya (1930), Ruth Gordon in The Three-Cornered Moon (1933), and Lawrence Olivier in The Green Bay Tree (1933).
The Theatre Guild presented The Winter’s Tale (1946) and Wesley Addy, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Marlon Brando were featured
in Antigone and Candida, produced in repertory in 1946. Eva Le Gallienne translated and starred in Ibsen’s Ghosts and Hedda
Gabler (1948), and Grace Kelly made her Broadway debut in Strindberg’s The Father (1949).
Among the notable stars and productions of the 1950s and 1960s were Katharine Hepburn and William Prince in As You Like It
(1950); Saint Joan (1951) with Uta Hagen; the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Shrike (1952) featuring José Ferrer; Darren McGavin and
Geraldine Page in The Rainmaker (1954); The Diary of Anne Frank (1955); Purlie Victorious (1961) with Ossie Davis and Ruby
Dee; and Sunday in New York (1961) with Robert Redford. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest had a short run of only 82
performances at the Cort in 1963, but bolstered the careers of Kirk Douglas and Gene Wilder. Jane Fonda made her Broadway
debut in There Was A Little Girl (1960), and Al Pacino starred in Richard III (1969).
Productions of the 1980s and 1990s include Tennesee Williams’s Clothes for a Summer Hotel (1980), Glenda Jackson and Jessica
Tandy in Rose (1981), Zoe Caldwell in Medea (1982), The Grapes of Wrath (1990), Twilight, Los Angeles (1994), Cherry Jones in
The Heiress (1995), Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter (1997), John Leguizamo in Freak (1998), and Nicole Kidman in
The Blue Room (1998).
The Cort also hosted the Julie Taymor-directed The Green Bird (2000) and the Carol Burnett-penned Hollywood Arms (2002).
More recently, it has also been home to a revival of On Golden Pond (2005) with James Earl Jones, Douglas Carter Beane’s
comedy The Little Dog Laughed (2006), August Wilson’s final play Radio Golf (2007), and Will Ferrell's You're Welcome
Programs available onsite from this theatre:
Abraham Lincoln / 1920
Boy Meets Girl / 1936
Diary of Anne Frank / 1955
Sunrise at Campobello / 1958
The Hostage / 1960
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