The Shubert Theatre, at the corner of Shelby and Lafayette in downtown Detroit, was a longtime venue for legitimate theater. Here, the marquee is touting Janet Blair and Webb Tilton in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Along with the Cass Theatre, across the street on Lafayette, the Shubert hosted many productions that either were bound for Broadway or had already been on the Great White Way.
The theater, originally named the Orpheum, opened in 1914 as a vaudeville house. In 1925, it was renamed the Shubert Lafayette, redubbed the Lafayette in the ’30s, reverted to the Shubert Lafayette in the ’40s, before ultimately being called simply the Shubert, in 1952. To further confuse matters, there was, from 1919 to 1931, a Shubert Detroit theater at the original Detroit Opera House on Campus Martius.
The Nederlanders managed the Shubert, but abandoned it when their Broadway showcase moved to the remodeled Fisher Theatre in the early ’60s. Alas, the lovely old Italianate theater on Lafayette, which included interior murals by Maxfield Parrish, was razed in 1964.