Not everyone knows that acting legends such as Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews once graced the stage of New Haven’s Shubert Theatre.
But an upcoming New Haven Museum exhibition titled “The Nation’s Greatest Hits: 100 Years of New Haven’s Shubert Theatre” — which highlights performances by these actors in shows such as “My Fair Lady” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” — will illuminate the Shubert’s history. The exhibition, which will have its opening reception tomorrow at the museum, is intended to be a finale in a year-long celebration of the Shubert’s 100th anniversary.
“The Shubert has played such a significant role in the city’s cultural history,” said Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, the New Haven Museum’s executive director. “Our hope is that ‘The Nation’s Greatest Hits: 100 Years of New Haven’s Shubert Theatre’ captures some of the elegance and drama of this legendary performance space as their centennial year comes to a close.”
The exhibition space will emulate the appearance of the Shubert’s interior, complete with red carpet and the theater’s seating, according to a museum press release. Historical photos of both shows and their behind-the-scenes setups, as well as playbills from a number of productions over the theater’s history, will be on view as well.
The show will also showcase a number of the theater’s vintage usher uniforms from decades ago, which will appeal to potential visitors, according to the Shubert’s Director of Marketing & Community Relations Anthony Lupinacci, who contrasted the uniforms on display with those currently worn by the theater’s employees. The vintage uniforms are more formal, with buttons engraved with the letter “S” for “Shubert,” Lupinacci said.
“I don’t think it’s something we could reproduce at an affordable price now,” Lupinacci said, adding that the uniforms were reminiscent of a time when theater-goers dressed up to attend shows.
Exhibition curator Jason Bischoff-Wurstle called New Haven a “little Broadway,” citing actors such as Robert Redford whose performances on the Shubert’s stage served as a launchpad for their illustrious careers. He emphasized that exhibition-goers who view the city as a place that breeds artistic talent will find the exhibition relevant to this theme.
Lupinacci said the museum had initially approached the Shubert about creating the exhibition, after which the theater provided much of the historical material that is on view at the exhibit.
This archival material will benefit from the expertise of the museum staff, as the theatre has no space to properly display these objects for public view, Lupinacci noted.
“The Nation’s Greatest Hits: 100 Years of New Haven’s Shubert Theatre” will be on display until the end of February 2016.