Broadway in Brooklyn
April 24, 2009
These days taking in a show in Brooklyn generally entails taking in a movie at one of the borough's rather characterless multiplexes or aging neighborhood movie houses (the Kent, anyone?). Certainly the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Brooklyn College, among other venues, hold live theatrical performances, but by and large Brooklynites seeking theater must cross the East River.
An exhibition currently on display at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library makes it clear that was not always the case. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Brooklyn offered a thriving theater scene, serving as a major stop on the way to and from Broadway. Although theater in the borough dates back to the 17th century, it really took off in the 1800s presenting a range from Shakespeare to freak shows, with musicals, vaudeville and burlesque available as well. The scene faded in the mid 20th century, a victim of the Depression, television and the borough's overall of reversal of fortune.
The exhibition, created by the Theatre Museum, presents posters, photographs and prints of historic performance spaces to illustrate the history of theater in Brooklyn.
It will be on display through June 13. For more information, including hours, go to Brooklyn Public Library.