On September 12, the Cort Theatre on Broadway was officially renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre in honor of the legendary multi-award-winning American actor.
From the Shubert Organization:
With the help of Francesca Russo Architect, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shubert has performed extensive renovation and construction work on the theatre. A new contemporary annex, designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, expands accessibility, increases public space, adds dressing rooms and rehearsal space, and enhances the beauty of the 110-year-old theatre.
In the summer of 2020, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, The Shubert Organization embarked on a mission to rename the Cort Theatre after a prominent BIPOC theatre legend upon completion of construction.
Jones’s Broadway career began in 1957, and in 1958 he played his first role at the Cort Theatre in Sunrise at Campobello.
Over the following six-and-a-half decades Mr. Jones rose to star in countless stage and screen productions (including 21 Broadway shows), becoming one of a small number of lifetime “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners.
Jones’s Tony Awards include Best Actor in a Play for The Great White Hope (1969) and Fences (1987), as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He has additionally won seven Drama Desk Awards and has been awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor.
Jones has appeared in fourteen Broadway productions at Shubert theatres, including two at the Cort Theatre. Most recently he starred opposite Cicely Tyson in the 2015 Broadway revival of Donald L. Coburn’s The Gin Game at the Golden Theatre.
On a personal note, the Cort Theatre – now the James Earl Jones Theatre – holds special memories for me. I had several callbacks for a new national touring company of CATS back in 1986 on that very stage.
This was when big auditions were still held on Broadway stages. Many times during those auditions I was called out to dance alone on the stage looking out at the big, beautiful theater. I booked the gig and it was my first major job after moving to New York City. Heady times for a 22-year-old.
Watch below as Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis performs “Go the Distance” at the dedication ceremony of the James Earl Jones Theatre.