An inside tour of the Ziegfeld Theatre
Due to the ongoing renovations at Lincoln Center, the majority of this year’s New York Film Festival screenings will be held at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 141 West 54th St. (Sixth Avenue).
The original Ziegfeld Theatre opened February, 1927. With the help of William Randolf Hearst, impresario Florenz Ziegfeld built the $2.5 million egg-shaped auditorium complete with a huge medieval-style mural, The Joy of Life. After the theater closed as a Broadway revue house, it had several other lives, including a television studio (it was home to the Perry Como show for several years in the 50s), and a venue for the Emmy Awards.
The Ziegfeld Theatre that will host the 46th annual New York Film Festival opened in December 1969 just across the street from the original venue.
On first glance, this 1,131 seat theater seems out of a long-lost movie palace past: surfaces are done in gold and red velvet, and giant, ornate chandeliers preside over elegant, shadowy corridors lined with vintage photos of old movie stars.
Scratch the gilded, old-timey surface and you’ll find that the theater is state-of-the-art. Behind that sturdy 35mm projector in the booth is the latest in digital technology, and the sound system is booming surround sound. As multiplexes proliferate in Manhattan, the plush Ziegfeld is one-of-a-kind.