Broadway theater renamed to honor actor James Earl Jones

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Monday, September 12, 2022
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Broadway's Cort Theatre was renamed in honor of James Earl Jones, an American legend of the stage and screen. Sandy Kenyon has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Broadway's Cort Theatre was renamed in honor of an American legend of the stage and screen.

The James Earl Jones Theatre was officially dedicated Monday afternoon.

The venue, located at 138 West 48th Street, honors Jones, who has the rare distinction of having won an Emmy, a Grammy, and Oscar and a Tony -- known as an EGOT.

The renaming follows a $47 million restoration and expansion project at the 110-year-old theater, which is owned by the Shubert Organization.

The upgrades include a new contemporary annex, which expands accessibility, increases public space, adds dressing rooms and rehearsal space, and enhances the beauty of the landmark theatre.

Jones has performed in 21 Broadway shows and is also known for his voice work as Mufasa in "The Lion King" and "Darth Vader" in the "Star Wars" franchise.

The James Earl Jones Theatre renaming is "in recognition of Mr. Jones' lifetime of immense contributions to Broadway and the entire artistic community," Shubert said in a statement.

The move comes less than a year after a wide Broadway coalition of theater owners, producers, union leaders, creators and casting directors hammered out a series of reforms and commitments for the theater industry to ensure equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

One requirement of the New Deal for Broadway is that the Shubert, Nederlander and Jujamcyn chains have at least one of their theaters named after a Black artist.

Jujamcyn already has the August Wilson Theatre.

"For me, standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today," Jones, 91, said in a statement. "Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors."

Two of Jones' Broadway appearances were at the Cort Theatre, and his stage awards include best actor for "The Great White Hope" and "Fences," as well as a lifetime achievement award in 2017.

The theatre, located at 138 West 48th Street, was built by and named for John Cort, general manager of the Northwestern Theatrical Association, who died in 1929.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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