This glittering supper club was described by Fortune magazine as ‘a vast scarlet and silver restaurant which, in terraced rows of tables, seats fifteen hundred people without any crowding.’
For a short three year period it became the unrivalled premier nightspot in New York. It also celebrated the end of prohibition.
Excellent films of backstage scenes at the theatre during the 1930s.
The new lobby was three times bigger than the old one. Seating capacity was tripled with 1500 seats in the orchestra, 200 in boxes and the loge and 1300 on the balcony. In the 60 x 100 feet space under the balcony lounge areas were created. It was the first theatre to be cooled backstage, in the auditorium and public areas.
he premier attraction was Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1931 (27/8/31), but Carroll could not make the theatre a success since operating costs for such lavish shows were high and the ticket prices low due to the depression. Within six months he had lost the theatre Carroll and was sued for back rent, taxes and interest. He eventually relocated to Hollywood and made more of a success there. Florenz Ziegfeld took it over, called the building the Casino Theatre and opened with a revival of his great hit Show Boat (1932) but during the run he died and the show closed. George White used the theatre for Melody (1933) but success was still elusive and the theatre closed.
In late October 1933, the Theatre was sold to a business consortium of Louis F. Blumenthal, Charles H. Haring and Jack Shapiro for $52,000,000. This set in motion the beginnings of the French and London Casino project. The new owners invested $125,000 in renovation work to turn the theatre into the latest, up-to-the-minute cabaret-restaurant. They took out the seating and put tiers in the balcony and orchestra with tables. One of the key features was access. In other cabaret-theatre-restaurants, balcony diners must walk down through the rear to reach the dance floor. At the French Casino can descend the balconies by means of a series of ramps flanking both sides of the auditorium to the dance floor. People can ascend and descend in the theatre proper not by going out into the lobby. It provides the means of a grand entrance. Capacity was 900 on the lower floor and 500 flanking the sides and on the mezzanine and upper balcony. The show performs on an extended circular platform which comes out from the stage proper so that a neat ringside effect is created.