The Beginning of The Crucible

Artifact:  The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Topic:  The beginning of The Crucible

Parker Burningham


The Crucible.  The story of John Proctor, his wife Elizabeth, Abigail Williams, and the town of Salem, as they are affected by the blow of fire that was the Salem Witch Trials.  The play was written by the famous playwright Arthur Miller in the couple of years previous to January, 22 1953 (The Crucibles first opening night).  The opening night is the subject of this particular part of this particular artifact of Theater History.  It is a wonderful play with much to teach and I feel it is worth discussing the Beginning of this powerhouse that is The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  The Crucible was a large success because of the theatre it opened in, the playwright who crafted it, and because of the great responses it got.

The Martin Beck Theater, also known as the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (re-named on June 21st 2003 in honor of the artist that was famous for his renderings of famous Broadway celebrities), is the first theatre that The Crucible opened in on January 22, 1953.  The theatre was designed by the famous architect Albert Lansberg, for the Vaudeville promoter Martin Beck.  The Theatre was designed for large cast musicals, with dressing rooms for 200 actors and 1424 seats to fill the audience capacity that large, well-funded musical can attract.  The theatre is located at 302 West 45th street in Manhattan.  This theatre could not have been a better place for The Crucible to open.  With a large seating capacity, a versatile stage, along with the theatre’s popularity combined with the popularity of Arthur Miller at the time, the Crucible was in a Golden window for opening night on Broadway, with much owed to the Martin Beck Theatre.  

When The Crucible opened on January 22, 1953, the reviews came back with an almost hostile response, though it was well written certain audiences were put off by The Crucible.  With reviews varying from “Stylized and too cold” to “A powerful play with a driving performance” from the New York Times.  Nevertheless the show went on to win the 1953 Tony Award for best play.  Beatrice Straight also won the Tony for best actress for her portrail as Elizabeth Proctor.  

In conclusion, The Crucible was set up for success from the start.  With the incredible playwright that is Arthur Miller, the wonderful theatre that is The Al Hirschfeld Theatre (The Martin Beck Theatre), an obviously incredible first cast, and a generous yet critical audience The Crucible was thrown into the “hall of fame.”


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