On the Kimmel Cultural Campus, 250 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102 USA
The Merriam Theater has played an integral and entertaining role in the city's cultural life. The theater, which has a seating capacity of 1,870 was taken over in 1972 by the Pennsylvania Musical Academy, now the University of the Arts. Now completing its 84th year, the Merriam Theater opened on August 26th, 1918 as the Sam S. Shubert Theater, with a road production of a musical from London and New York called Chu Chow Chin. In the early years, Gershwin musicals and Al Jolson reviews graced the Shubert stage. John Barrymore played Hamlet in the 1920s and burlesque was featured in the 1930s. Other performers included: Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Sammy Davis Jr., Angela Lansbury, and Sir Laurence Olivier. The first two stages of a $4.1 million renovation of the Shubert, which included work on the theater's stage and backstage were completed in October, 1986 and the renovation of the main hall was completed in time for the Pennsylvania Ballet's performance in April 1987. In the summer of 1991, the theater was dedicated to John W. Merriam, a local entrepreneur, who was active on the Board of Directors of the University of the Arts for many years. Since 1987, the Merriam Theater has become the number one Broadway roadhouse in Philadelphia and is also the home of the Pennsylvania Ballet, musical concerts, comedy shows, gospels and The Gilbert and Sullivan International Festival.