The great actor of theatre, film and television James Earl Jones will see his name in the spotlight once again: the 110-year-old Cort Theater on Broadway is renamed in Jones’ honor.
The Shubert Organization today announced that the venue will become the James Earl Jones Theater “in recognition of Mr. Jones’ immense contribution to Broadway and to the broader arts community.”
No More Deadline
Le Cort has been closed for major renovations and construction during the Covid pandemic, with work due to be completed this summer. The renamed James Earl Jones Theater will include a newly constructed wing when it opens for productions following construction. Shubert plans to hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at that time.
In a statement, Jones said, “For me, standing in this same building sixty-four years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable for my name to be on the building today. May my journey from yesterday to today be a source of inspiration for all budding actors.
Although Jones’ first Broadway casting was as a stand-in in 1957’s short-lived The Egghead, his breakthrough came the following year at the Cort Theater in Sunrise in Campobello, Dore Schary’s play on Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Ralph Bellamy. In all, Jones appeared in 21 Broadway productions, including his Tony-winning performances in The Great White Hope (1969) and Fences (1987).
Just since the turn of the century, Jones starred on Broadway in On the golden pond (2005), Cat on a hot tin roof (2008), Driving Miss Daisy (2010), Gore Vidal’s Best Man (2012), You can’t take it with you (2014) and The gin game (2015). In 2017 he received Tony’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and during his career he received the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honor.
In addition to his Tonys, Jones’ accolades include an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 2011, two Emmys (1990 Heat wave1991 Gabriel’s fire) and a Grammy (1977 Great American Documents registration), placing him in the rarefied EGOT community.
“The Shubert Organization is incredibly honored to place James – an icon of the theater community, the black community and the American community – forever in the spotlight on Broadway,” said Robert E. Wankel, CEO and Chairman of the Board. administration of Shubert. “That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is beyond doubt.”
Although it aligns with a commitment made last summer, the name change was reportedly already in the planning stages when the Shubert Organization became a signatory, along with other Broadway owners such as Jujamcyn Theatres, the Nederlander Organization and the Lincoln Center Theater, of the New Deal For Broadway. Written by the nonprofit advocacy organization Black Theater United, the New Deal, designed to make Broadway a more racially inclusive industry, included a commitment from theater owners to have at least one named venue d ‘after a black entertainer (Jujamcyn owns the August Wilson Theatre).
Le Cort, designed by theater architect Thomas Lamb in the style of an 18th-century French palace and located at 138 W. 48th Street in Manhattan, opened in 1912 to host productions by impresario John Cort . The place was purchased by the Shuberts in 1927.
Best of Deadline
Sign up for the Deadline newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.