JAMES EARL JONES THEATRE
The Shubert Organization, Inc. Monday, September 12, the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street) will be officially renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre in honor of the iconic multi-award-winning American actor. Following a $47 million restoration and expansion of the building, a formal dedication ceremony will take place on 48th Street to celebrate the Theatre’s completion.
The official dedication ceremony will open to guests and press members. It will include special performances, tours of the renovated Theatre, and the unveiling of the new marquee.
With the help of Francesca Russo, Architect, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Shubert has performed extensive renovation and construction work on the Theatre. A new contemporary annex, designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, expands accessibility, increases public space, adds dressing rooms and rehearsal space, and enhances the beauty of the 110-year-old Theatre.
In the summer of 2020, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, The Shubert Organization embarked on a mission to rename the Cort Theatre after a prominent BIPOC theatre legend upon completion of construction.
Shubert Chairman and CEO Robert E. Wankel said, “The dedication of the James Earl Jones Theatre honors one of the most beloved Broadway and film actors of all time. It’s fitting that the renaming of this beautifully restored building also be a moment in which to recognize the tremendous contribution of BIPOC people to Broadway. Mr. Jones’s name quickly rose to the top of the Shubert Organization’s list due to his illustrious career performing in Shubert houses, his status in the Black community, and his worldwide reputation as one of the most celebrated performers to ever grace the Broadway stage.”
The Cort Theatre opened in 1912, designed in the style of an Eighteenth-Century French palace by renowned theatre architect Thomas Lamb to house productions of theatre impresario John Cort. The building was sold to the Shubert brothers in 1927.
The Theatre has undergone historic refurbishments to the interior and rehabilitation of the NYC historic landmark’s façade, as well as creating a new, modern annex to compliment the historic Theatre. The new space, designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, is fully accessible and features lounges, new restrooms for theatre patrons, and rehearsal spaces and offices for theatre staff. The dressing room tower was relocated to the annex, allowing for the expansion of the stage-left wing and an upgrade of the rigging system. These renovations have created an enhanced theatre functionality that provides for presenting more modern, technically demanding productions with larger casts.
Jones’s Broadway career began in 1957, and in 1958 he played his first role at the Cort Theatre in Sunrise at Campobello. Over the following six-and-a-half decades, Mr. Jones rose to star in countless stage and screen productions (including 21 Broadway shows), becoming one of a small number of lifetime “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners. Jones’s Tony Awards include Best Actor in a Play for The Great White Hope (1969) and Fences (1987), as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He has won seven Drama Desk Awards, the National Medal of Arts, and the Kennedy Center.
Jones has appeared in fourteen Broadway productions at Shubert theatres, including two at the Cort Theatre. Most recently, he starred opposite Cicely Tyson in the 2015 Broadway revival of Donald L. Coburn’s The Gin Game at the Golden Theatre.
THE SHUBERT ORGANIZATION
The Shubert Organization is America’s oldest professional theatre company and the most prominent theatre owner on Broadway. Since the dawn of the 20th century, Shubert has operated hundreds of theatres and produced hundreds of plays and musicals, including this season’s Almost Famous, Topdog/Underdog, and the new musical Some Like It Hot. Shubert owns and operates 17 Broadway, six Off-Broadway theatres, and the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia. Under the leadership of Robert E. Wankel, Chairman, and CEO, The Shubert Organization continues to be a leader in the theatre industry. Shubert’s innovative ticketing solutions offer unparalleled distribution and marketing to the theatre industry and beyond. Its consumer-facing brands—Telecharge for retail ticket sales and Broadway Inbound for group sales and the travel industry—sell millions of tickets yearly. The Shubert Foundation, The Shubert Organization, Inc.’s sole shareholder, is dedicated to sustaining and advancing live performing arts in the United States. The Foundation provides general operating support to not-for-profit theatres and dance companies. Foundation grants in 2022 totaled $37.6 million to 609 grantees.
The board members of Shubert are Laura Forese, Wyche Fowler, Jr., Pamela Newkirk, Diana Phillips, Richard J. Poccia, Lee J. Seidler, Stuart Subotnick, and Robert E. Wankel.