Every Broadway-lovin’ little girl’s dream is to come down the Warbucks mansion staircase in ANNIE dressed for Christmas in a red and white dress. What fun it was today, during the onstage tour of ANNIE, to get a chance to pose there myself!
And what a great experience it was to stand on the world-famous Palace stage. For anyone who may not know, since it’s been so many decades since Vaudeville was an art form, “playing the Palace” was every vaudevillian’s dream. It was the premiere vaudeville theater in the world. You didn’t “play the Palace” unless you were one of the best performers in the business: show business.
Here’s what it looked like back in 1920, during the height of vaudeville:
Some of the stars that had the honor of playing the Palace were: Will Rogers, Blossom Seeley, Bert Williams, Marie Dressler, The Marx Brothers, Ed Wyn, Ethel Barrymore, Eva Tanguay, Kate Smith, Eddie Cantor and Ethel Waters. Much later, in the 1960’s, Judy Garland played there, too, in a historic performance. I adore history. What a phenomenal feeling it was to stand where all of those sparkling legends once stood!
The performers would look out from the stage into this beautiful sight:
When vaudeville died out as an art form, the Palace was reopened as a movie theater, and later, as a Broadway theater. It’s the third-largest theater on Broadway in terms of the size of the house – which means the number of audience seats that it can accommodate – but it doesn’t have a very large stage. When the theater was constructed for vaudeville, the architect wasn’t thinking about sets for lavish Broadway productions. Vaudeville acts were smaller and less complicated than a show like ANNIE which involves an orphanage, a Hooverville, a mansion, the streets of New York City, and the White House. As a result, some of the props for the show are stored on pulleys up in the air above the stage, in the wings. Others put on prop shelves backstage. Here’s a shot of one of them, lit with blue lights so that the actors can see the props in the dark backstage area:
Here is a shot of backstage scenery and props – the mansion staircase, the front silhouette of the orphanage, and part of the New York City skyline, not to mention a few stray balloons – stored all the way to the ceiling, which, by the way, is several stories high in the Palace, which provides for a lot of room:
It was my friend and fellow “Broadway Baby” Jen who won the tickets for today’s show and the onstage tour. Here we are on the stairs inside the orphanage set:
The Palace is, and has always been, quite a magical place! Here’s what the exterior looks like today: