production notes
about the director

production notes

the sea islands | twa terminal | marian anderson |
the hammerstein ballroom | gordon parks

Located at 311 West 34th Street, the historic Manhattan Center building still stands nearly 100 years after Oscar Hammerstein first built it as the Manhattan Opera House in 1906. Hammerstein built the opera house with the bold intention to take on the established Metropolitan Opera by featuring cheaper seats for the ordinary New Yorker. The Manhattan Opera house quickly became an alternative venue for many great operas.

After four years, the Met could no longer withstand the competition and offered Hammerstein $1.2 million to stop producing opera for a period of ten years. He accepted the offer and began experimenting with different acts before eventually selling the building. In March of 1911, the Shubert brothers opened the hall as a "combination" house featuring vaudeville shows during the week and concerts on Sunday nights. Once again, the Manhattan Opera House provided entertainment for New Yorkers at prices that were much more affordable.

In 1926, Warner Brothers chose to set up the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system in The Grand Ballroom to capture the 107-piece New York Philharmonic orchestra for the film Don Juan. This marked the release of the first commercial film featuring a recorded musical soundtrack.