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Winter Garden Undergoes $8 Million Renovation For "Mamma Mia"

The famed Manhattan theater the Winter Garden has gone through a vast renovation from "Cats" to the forthcoming ABBA musical "Mamma Mia" opening on October 18. The $8 million renovation had to be careful not to alter the landmark's exterior while all interior work had to be approved by the landmark commission.

The theater was gutted, the ceiling and walls cleaned, replastered and repainted, new carpeting laid, new seats installed, and the gilt features were restored on the boxes. Additionally, a new lounge was built in the mezzanine. There were 2,900 yards of carpeting used, 3,000 yards of seat fabric, 973 yards of drapery, 300 gallons of paint, 120 gallons of glaze, and 900 yards of wall cover.

Cats played at the 1,500-seat Winter Garden for 18 years before closing earlier this year. For "Cats," the Winter Garden was set up as a dirty alley with loads of junk and garbage with the walls painted black.

The theater was built by the Shubert family on the site of the W.K. Vanderbilt's Horse Exchange. It opened in 1911 with a show that featured Al Jolson with tickets priced at $2.50. Among the shows that have played the Winter Garden are "42nd Street," "Beatlemania," "Top Banana," "Wonderful Town," "West Side Story," "Funny Girl," "Mame," "Gypsy," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Follies."