The Village East Cinema has a long, colorful history. First built in 1926, it opened as the Yiddish Art Theater in the New York’s Jewish Rialto district. The building was created to be an elaborate theater for Yiddish theater pioneer Maurice Schwartz and was designed by the Jewish community leader Louis Jaffe. The interior was designed in the Moorish Revival style which was prominent in synagogues of that time. The theater includes a forty-foot highly decorated ceiling with an amazing Star of David design in the center which can still be seen today.
The Yiddish Art Theater of Maurice Schwartz attracted such stellar guests as Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, George Gershwin and former New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. In the mid-1900s the theater changed names several times, and finally as the landmark Phoenix Theater it housed such productions as “Oh! Calcutta”, “Grease”, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “The Princess and the Pea” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
In 1992 the theater was converted and restored, and became the Village East Cinema. Today it is a lovely, seven-screen movie theater. Because of the sprawling, ornate main auditorium with orchestra and balcony seating and its oversized screen, this theater is still one of New York’s most wonderful places to view a film.
In 2006 the upper and lower lobbies were elegantly renovated with new concession stands and comfortable couches and lounging areas.
The Village East Cinema is located at 181-189 Second Avenue between East 11th and 12th Streets. Check the website for show times and what is playing.