From 1954–1970, the studio of Friedman-Abeles photographed the majority of the plays and musicals on Broadway. Although their black and white images are familiar to fans and historians, the studio also photographed many shows in color, and the Library for the Performing Arts received them as color slides. The cost of reproducing these images in the pre-digital era meant that, aside from a few selections in record album liner notes or on magazine covers, these photographs have never been seen before. Over the last three years the Library has digitized all of the negatives for dozens of shows along with most of the color slides in the collection. These images are showcased in a unique way in this exhibition. 

Rather than selecting a single shot from these shows, the Library for the Performing Arts has used the analog-printing technology of lenticular printing to simulate animations of several of the shots. These animations give a sense of the movement of the original production, and can reveal details that would be impossible to notice in a static image.

This exhibition showcases selections of some of the studio’s most iconic images from Broadway hits like the original productions of Camelot, West Side Story, and Bye Bye Birdie

A woman with a cigarette in a cigarette holder opens a silvery curtain

Jill Haworth in the stage production Cabaret by Friedman-Abeles Studio, 1966. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Discover more about the exhibition with our free audio guide for Reanimating Theater, accessible onsite or from anywhere on your mobile device.

Listen to the audio guide on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app. Bloomberg Connects is a third-party mobile app not owned or operated by NYPL. See privacy notice below.

Color photo of people singing on stage in a church.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1970-71. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Purlie, original Broadway production.
Color photo of people singing on stage in a church.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1970-71. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Purlie, original Broadway production.
Color photo of people singing on stage in a church.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1970-71. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Purlie, original Broadway production.
Colorful scaffolding with people standing on it in different poses while on the phone.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1960-61. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Bye Bye Birdie, original Broadway production.
Colorful scaffolding with people standing on it in different poses while on the phone.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1960-61. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Bye Bye Birdie, original Broadway production.
Colorful scaffolding with people standing on it in different poses while on the phone.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1960-61. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Bye Bye Birdie, original Broadway production.
Colorful scaffolding with people standing on it in different poses while on the phone.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1960-61. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Bye Bye Birdie, original Broadway production.
Colorful scaffolding with people standing on it in different poses while on the phone.

Photo by Friedman-Abeles, 1960-61. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Bye Bye Birdie, original Broadway production.

Sponsors

Digitization was made possible through the generous support of the Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Estate of June Reig Maxwell, The Schloss Family Foundation, and the Frederick Loewe Foundation, Inc. 

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman. Additional support for exhibitions has been provided by Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg and the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Foundation.

Privacy Notice

Bloomberg Connects is a third-party mobile application (app) developed by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The app is not owned or operated by NYPL and therefore we encourage you to review the Bloomberg Connects privacy policy here. The policy can also be reviewed within the app on your mobile device. Once you have downloaded the app, we also encourage you to review the app’s specific privacy settings, found in the “Settings” menu on your mobile device.

For more information about NYPL’s third-party partners and vendors in general, please see Section 3 of NYPL's Privacy Policy describing "Third-Party Library Services Providers."

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