By Edward Kliszus
The newly renovated and former Cort Theatre on 48th Street in the heart of the Broadway theatre district is now the James Earl Jones Theatre, named after the beloved eponymous actor. Jones’s Broadway premiere occurred on the Cort stage in 1958 in a production of Sunrise at Campobello written by Dore Schary, which starred Ralph Bellamy, Henry Jones, Mary Fickett, and Anne Seymour.
The theatre’s breathtaking new designs were crafted under the pen of architect Francesca Russo. In addition, Kostow Greenwood Architects designed a new contemporary annex that, according to the Shubert organization, “expands accessibility, increases public space, adds dressing rooms and rehearsal space, and enhances the beauty of the 110-year-old theatre.”
The dedication ceremony occurred in front of the theatre and was emceed by eloquent Shubert organization president Robert Wankel.
This event was a heart-warming tribute to the life and career of the venerable, renowned actor James Earl Jones, one of the rare, elite “EGOTs, aka “Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony” winners.
Shown was a film of the 91-year-old Jones’s visit a few days before the dedication ceremony. The film juxtaposes the sumptuous, elegiac Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major, Op. 0, D. 899 by Franz Schubert.
Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell performed inspiring songs. Lewis sang “Go the Distance” by Alan Menken and David Zippel, while Brian Stokes Mitchell sang “Make Them Hear You” by Stephen Flaherty. Their enchanting performances were musical poetry that fit the theme and setting perfectly.
Guest speakers included stage luminary and raconteur Samuel L. Jackson and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The ceremony concluded with the pageantry of a rousing unveiling of Jones’ likeness above 48th Street.
The James Earl Jones Theatre
138 West 48th Street
New York NY New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 239-6200