(Boston Theater District in the 1950’s)
by Larry Stark
The sign’s faded, but the Boylston Street stop on the Green Line proclaims itself in the center of “The Theatre District” of Boston.
In a sense that’s still true, since within a few blocks’ walking distance are The Colonial Theatre and The Boston Opera House, The Wang Center and The Shubert Theatre, The Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre and Emerson’s Theatre Center, and the new Metropolitan Theatre and the Modern Theatre, and the Charles Playhouse – home of the two longest-running shows in Boston’s history.
For decades, this was a true center for a kind of “golden age” of theatre in Boston – the days when all sorts of shows “tried-out” for two weeks before the most intelligent audience for plays in the country, before chancing an opening down in New York City. There were three “big Broadway barns” here – the Colonial and Ye Wilbur Theatre and the Shubert – and, for a time, anyone who had a show working its way toward a run in The Apple had to reserve a two-week stint at one of those houses a full year in advance; that many shows were hoping for Boston’s help.