Queens Theatre began as the Theaterama, one of three structures designed by renowned modernist architect Philip Johnson to comprise the New York State Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. Its neighbors were the triple Astro-View towers, with its 226 and 181-foot high observations decks and 85-foot high restaurant and lounge, and the Tent of Tomorrow, a massive open-air pavilion with a multi-colored fiberglass roof and large-scale map of New York State on its terrazzo floor.
While the Theaterama showed a 360-degree panoramic film on the State of New York inside, its exterior was an equally impressive sight: its façade was adorned with large-scale original artwork by some of the most famous pop artists of the day, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Ellsworth Kelly.
When the fair closed in 1965, the pavilion was one of the few structures spared demolition.
Theaterama was converted from a movie theatre to a live entertainment venue.
After being managed by a number of organizations, Queens Theatre was officially established in 1989.
After a $4 million renovation, Queens Theatre officially opened on October 16, 1993 with a gala performance hosted by Kitty Carlisle Hart that honored Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.
Queens Theatre is one of the only performing arts centers in the borough that actively develops new works through its New Play Development programs. In 2002, QT launched two programs - The Immigrant Voices Project, and Plays A Mother Would Love to develop new work. Our current new play development program is New American Voices, which presents works that represent the rich cultural diversity of New York City. More than 100 new plays by writers including Heather Raffo, Lauren Yee, Rajiv Joseph, Kristofer Diaz and Caridad Svich have received Readings, Showcases and Full Productions on Queens Theatre's three stages.
Chicken and Biscuits, written by Douglas Lyons and directed by Zhailon Levingston opens on Broadway at Circle in the Square after its world premiere 2020 production in Queens Theatre's Studio, which closed prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This marks the first time a production has moved directly to Broadway from Queens Theatre.
Today, Queens Theatre is a vibrant performing arts center with three performance spaces: its 472-seat mainstage theatre, 99-seat studio theatre and its intimate cabaret & cocktail bar. The theatre is committed to presenting world-class theatre, music and dance as well as programming that reflects the diversity of the community that supports it.