The John Golden Theatre was originally built in 1927 as the Theatre Masque by real-estate magnates, the Chanin Brothers, as part of a three-theatre complex that also included the Royale (a mid-sized house) and the Majestic (a large house). The Theatre Masque, the most intimate of the three, was designed for serious dramas. In 1930, the Chanins transferred ownership of all three venues to the Shuberts. In 1937, when John Golden assumed its management, he renamed it after himself, the third playhouse to bear his name. The Shuberts took back control of the theatre in 1946, turning it into a film house for two years before restoring it to legitimacy in the late 1940s.
The theatre's premiere production was the not-so-successful Puppets of Passion (1927) by Rosso di San Secondo. The Shuberts had a few successes at the theatre in the 1930s, including Louder Please (1931) starring Louise Brooks, Goodbye Again (1932) with James Stewart, and Tobacco Road (1933), which was such a triumph it had to be moved to a larger venue. John Golden had less success, producing only one significant hit, Angel Street (1941).
The Golden was home to many significant playwrights and productions throughout the 1950s and 60s. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1956) had its Broadway premiere here, starring Bert Lahr. An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May opened in 1960, followed by Beyond the Fringe (1962), and a South African musical revue entitled Wait a Minim! (1966).
Some distinguished plays of the 1970s include David Rabe’s Sticks & Bones (1972), the Shubert-produced, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Gin Game (1977), directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. Tommy Tune’s A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980) began the 1980s with a bang. The Golden then played home to three more Pulitzer Prize winners: Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart (1981), Marsha Norman’s ‘night Mother (1983), produced by the Shuberts and starring Kathy Bates, and David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (1984).
The last two decades have seen shows such as Falsettos (1992) by William Finn and James Lapine, Terrence McNally’s Master Class (1995) starring Zoe Caldwell as opera diva Maria Callas and Audra McDonald as her student, Side Man (1998), Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002), the Tony-winning musical, Avenue Q (2003), by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty, the Tony Award-winning Best Play Red (2010), the Tony Award-winning revival of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, Seminar (2011) with Alan Rickman, and David Mamet's The Anarchist (2012) with Patti LuPone and Debra Winger.
The Chanins hired the Shuberts’ favorite architect, Herbert J. Krapp, to design their three-theatre complex. The Golden’s interior has a Spanish influence, an example of the Mission Revival style popular on the West Coast. Interior features include rough plaster walls, wrought iron fixtures, spiraled columns, and ceiling arches.
Details on the Golden Theatre's Accessibility
Theatre is not completely wheelchair accessible. There are no steps into the theatre (where there are steps we are unable to provide assistance).
Accessibility by Seating Section
Orchestra: Seating is accessible to all parts of the orchestra without steps. Wheelchair seating is in the orchestra only.
Mezzanine: Located on the second level, up three flights of stairs, 28 steps. Once on the Mezzanine level there are approximately 2 steps per row. Entrance to the Mezzanine is behind row D.
Handrails: Available at the end of every stepped seat row in the Mezzanine.
Located in the lower lounge. Accessible at 54", with TTY utility outlet and shelf.
Not wheelchair accessible. Restrooms located down 2 flights of steps (down 19 steps to lower level.) Wheelchair accessible restrooms located in the Schoenfeld Theatre.
Located in the lower lobby.