Designed by Herbert J. Krapp for the Shubert Brothers, the Walter Kerr Theatre opened as the The Ritz Theatre in 1921. The venue functioned as a radio and television studio for ABC from 1943 to 1965. Ownership changed hands multiple times between the 1950s and 1970s, during which time the building operated as a traditional theatre and an adult movie cinema. The Ritz then housed the Robert F. Kennedy Theater for Children from 1973-76.
Jujamcyn Theaters took ownership in 1980 and, after renovations, reopened the theatre on March 5, 1990 under its new name in honor of the theatre critic Walter Kerr. The first production was August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. In 2021, Jujamcyn celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Walter Kerr Theatre.
The Walter Kerr Theatre is closest to the 50th Street subway stop on the C, E, and 1 lines. The nearest bus stops are 7th Ave/W 50th St. on the M7, M20, and M104 lines; 8th Ave./W 49th St. on the M20 and M104 lines; and 7th Ave/W 49th St. on the M50 line.
Popular restaurants near the Walter Kerr Theatre include P.S. Kitchen (vegan), La Masseria (Italian), Serafina (Italian), Lillie's Victorian Establishment (English/pub fare), and Junior's (American).
Hadestown on Broadway plays at the Walter Kerr Theatre at 219 W 48th St. The eight-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical, which updates classic Greek mythology with jazz and folk music, has played the venue since 2019. Hadestown is the longest-running show in the history of the Kerr.