Theatre History

1910 - Opening Night
Since its opening on January 24, 1910, the Shubert Theater has enjoyed a rich history of world premieres and memorable performances. Originally a stage for Shakespeare’s plays, the theatre evolved as an ideal venue for pre-Broadway tryouts, presenting classics like The King and I, South Pacific, Camelot, and Mame. These productions brought with them legendary performers including Sir John Gielgud, John Barrymore, Richard Burton, Mary Martin, and Julie Andrews. After the opening of The Taming of the Shrew in 1910, its first production, The Boston Globe reported, "The portion of the public, which has been fortunate enough to secure tickets, will be privileged to see and enjoy one of the coziest and daintiest playhouses in the country. It is indeed a gem and Boston has reason to be proud."

1996 - Little Princess Joins the Grand Dame
In February 1996, the then-called Wang Center for the Performing Arts entered a 40-year lease agreement for the Shubert Theatre. "If the Wang Theatre is the grand dame of Boston theatres, then the Shubert is the little princess," said Josiah A. Spaulding, President and CEO of the Boch Center. "The Shubert's scale and rich theatrical history make it the perfect complement to the grandiose Wang Theatre. Together they symbolize the full tradition and magic of Boston's entertainment industry."

1996 - A New Beginning
In October 1996, the newly renovated theatre reopened to premiere Jonathan Larsen’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning musical, Rent. The $3 million renovation included increased accessibility for patrons with disabilities, a new stage, an expanded orchestra pit and updated electrical and mechanical systems. In the winter of 1998, the then-called Wang Center bestowed a $1 million grant to fellow nonprofit Boston Lyric Opera (BLO). As part of this special partnership, the Shubert Theatre has been BLO’s home for 18 years. The organizations also partnered on a co-production Rachel Portman’s opera The Little Prince in February 2005.

2003 - Community Arts Center
The theatre has also been home to several productions as partnerships with other local arts organizations. In 2003, World Music’s Flamenco Festival brought Juana Amaya y Farruquito and Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras to the Shubert. After the devastating fire at the North Shore Music Theatre in 2005, productions of Abyssiniaand Camelot were moved to the Shubert Theatre rent-free. In September 2006, the then-called Citi Performing Arts Center partnered with the Handel and Haydn Society to present a fully staged production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the Shubert. Over the years, the Boch Center has partnered with Celebrity Series of Boston hosting groups like the Mark Morris Dance Group, Pilobolus, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Paul Taylor Dance Company as well as the “Dance Across the City” program.

1910 - 2010 Broadway Darling
The Shubert has hosted Broadway sensations like Cats, Dreamgirls, Les Miserables, La Cage Aux Folles, Carousel, Steve Martin’s Picasso at Lapin Agile, Death of a Salesman with Brian Denehey, Penn and Teller, and the smash hit Jersey Boys. Designed by architects Charles Bond and Thomas James, the Shubert Theatre has been home to an impressive list of international stars such as Sarah Bernhardt, W.C. Fields, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison, Zero Mostel, Helen Hayes, and Cary Grant. As part of the Boch Center’s annual City Spotlights program, the theatre has also hosted local artists such as Lisa and Louie Bello of The Bello Project, Mattahunt All-Stars Step Team, Stajez Dance Company, Gund Kwok Lion & Dragon Dance Troupe, break-dancing troupe The Floorlords, B-Boy Tappa Shaquan Reed, A Major Dance Co., and Colombian folkdance company Bajucol. Former Governor Deval Patrick chose to host his Youth Inaugural at the theatre in 2007.

Today - A True Community Arts Center
Just as the city and audience have evolved with the times, the Boch Center, as guardian of the Wang and Shubert Theatres (and from 2012-15, the Center also managed the historic Emerson Colonial Theatre), has changed to meet the needs of its community. Uniquely using a Balanced Scorecard (a Fortune 500 management framework), strategy map, and strategic dashboard, the Boch Center ensures that our Theatres and programs stay relevant to the community we serve. Today, the Boch Center is considered a best practice institution and nonprofit arts leader—click here to see a full listing of recent awards and recognition. With the belief that arts make and keep us a civilized nation, the Boch Center is dedicated to providing high-quality, diverse and culturally relevant arts and entertainment, and arts education programming for New England residents and visitors.

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