1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020 – – The Music Hall opened to the public on December 27, 1932, with a lavish stage show featuring numbers including Ray Bolger, Doc Rockwell, Martha Graham, The Mirthquakers, and Patricia Bowman. The opening was meant to be a return to high-class variety entertainment. However, the opening was not a success: the program was very long, spanning from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. of the next day, and a multitude of acts were crammed onto the world’s largest stage, ensuring that individual acts were lost in the cavernous hall. As the premiere went on, audience members, including John Rockefeller Jr, waited in the lobby or simply left early. Some news reporters, tasked with writing reviews of the premiere, guessed the ending of the program because they left beforehand.
Reviews ranged from furious to commiserate. The film historian Terry Ramsaye wrote that “if the seating capacity of the Radio City Music Hall is precisely 6,200, then just exactly 6,199 persons must have been aware at the initial performance that they were eye witnesses to the unveiling of the world’s best ‘bust'”. Set designer Robert Edmond Jones resigned in disappointment, and Graham was fired. Despite the negative reviews of the performances, the theater’s design was very well received. One reviewer stated: “It has been said of the new Music Hall that it needs no performers; that its beauty and comforts alone are sufficient to gratify the greediest of playgoers.”
With a seating capacity of 5,960, the Radio City Music Hall was built on an area of land originally for the construction of a Metropolitan Opera House, which were changed in 1929 to make the Rockefeller Center, with two main buildings; the International Music Hall and the Center Theatre, build as part of the “Radio City” section of the Rockefeller Center. The Music Hall was designed by Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey in an Art Deco fashion, and today showcases a variety of artworks. The venue is particularly notable for its auditorium, the largest in the world at the time of opening.
In the 1970s, after many years as a hugely popular entertainment venue, the Music Hall fell into bankruptcy, but in 1978 was designated a New York City Landmark and restored to its former glory. From then until the present day, the venue remains a top destination for the greatest of the world’s entertainers. Phone: (212) 465-6741
|Tishman Speyer Properties
|Madison Square Garden Entertainment
|December 27, 1932