Playbill for The Princess Theatre-"Much Ado About Nothing"-The National Theatre Company"-1904-6" X 9"-12 pages-theatre program. This vintage theatre program features the Playbill for The Princess Theatre in New York City. This theatre was one of many that was owned and managed by Sam Shubert and his brother Lee Shubert.Levi "Lee" Shubert (March 25, 1871 – December 25, 1953) was a Polish-born American theatre owner/operator and producer and a member of the Shubert family.
Born in Neustadt, Poland (now Kudirkos Naumiestis, Lithuania) the son of Duvvid Schubart and Katrina Helwitz, he was 11 years old when the family emigrated to the United States, settling in Syracuse, New York where a number of Jewish families from their hometown in Poland were already living. His father's alcoholism kept the family in difficult financial cuircumstances and Lee Shubert went to work selling newspapers on a street corner. With borrowed money, he and younger brothers Sam and Jacob eventually embarked on a business venture that led to them to become the successful operators of several theaters in upstate New York.
The Shubert brothers decided to expand to the huge market in New York City and at the end of March, 1900, they leased the Herald Square Theatre at the corner of Broadway Ave. and 35th St. in Manhattan. Leaving younger brother Jacob at home to manage their existing theatres, Lee and Sam Shubert moved to New York City where they laid the foundations for what was to become the largest theatre empire in the 20th century including Broadway's Winter Garden and Shubert Theatres.
Shubert teamed up with John Cort, a Seattle, Washington theater owner who was unhappy with the operating methods of the all-powerful Theatrical Syndicate. In 1910, they formed the "Independent National Theatre Owner's Association" and the partnership brought about the defection of many theaters from all around the United States that had been previously locked in with the Syndicate.
Lee Shubert was a hard nosed businessman who has been criticized for being money and power oriented with little interest in culture. Nonetheless, he recognized the need to attract some of the top stage actors from the long-established European theatres to perform at the new Broadway houses. After a disastrous production of "Hamlet" in 1901 at a competitor's theatre, French megastar Sarah Bernhardt vowed never to return to America until Lee Shubert convinced her to perform for his company in 1906. The Playbill has been autographed on the front cover by Lee Shubert with a fountain pen in brown........BOTH PLAYBILL AND AUTOGRAPH ARE IN VERY GOOD CONDITION.............