15 of the world’s most spectacular theaters

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Tokyo's National Noh Theatre has a subtitling system for each seat that can be changed from Japanese to English

Minack Theatre is an open-air stone venue looking out to the Celtic Sea

Germany's largest theater, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, was the world's biggest planetarium when it opened in 1926

CNN  — 
Theatre shakespeares globe
The Shakespeare statue in front of the remains of St. Mary Aldermanbury parish in the City of London.
William Shakespeare turns 450
02:34 - Source: CNN

April 23 is, according to some reports, William Shakespeare’s birthday.

In a nod to the Bard’s enduring legacy 450 years on from his birth, as well as the UK’s theatrical history, here are a few stages worth seeing, whether a play’s being performed or not.

Shakespeare’s Globe theater (London)

The original Globe theater was built by Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599, but was destroyed by fire in 1613.

A replica was built in 1997 just meters from the original site, with historical records used for guidance.

Though almost identical in appearance to the original, the new 857-seat structure has several modern features, including roof-based sprinklers and a concrete theater pit, as opposed to the straw-strewn one that would have existed in 1599.

One feature faithfully recreated is the roof – Shakespeare’s Globe has the first and only thatched roof permitted in London since the great fire of 1666.

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London; +44 20 7902 1400

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The Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Düsseldorf, Germany)

The history of this German theater dates to 1818, when King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia presented it to the residents of Düsseldorf as a gift.

The modern theater that now stands on the original site was built in the late 1960s.

Its curved, undulating lines are designed to resemble a theater curtain.

Architect Bernhard Pfau’s design was chosen in a competition.

The Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz 1, Düsseldorf, Germany; +49 211 85230

The Balboa: How a $26 million facelift looks.

Balboa Theatre (San Diego)

The Balboa Theatre was built in 1924 and named after Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa – the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean.

The property fell into disrepair, but in 2002 a major restoration began.

A replica of the theater’s sign, depicting Vasco’s ship, was created using original colors identified from photographs, and stencils were used to painstakingly recreate the tapestry design that once adorned the walls.

“After a $26 million renovation, this elegant vaudeville theater has been fully restored, complete with its one-of-a-kind, fully operational interior waterfalls,” says Ken Stein at the League of Historic American Theaters.

“If you could sum up the beauty of the City of San Diego in a single design, this would be it.”

Balboa Theatre, 868 4th Ave., San Diego; +1 619 570 110

BAM Harvey theater (New York)

The BAM Harvey opened in 1904 as a venue for Shakespearean plays, vaudeville revues and musicals.

It was converted into a cinema in 1942, before dancer Harvey Lichtenstein commissioned architect Hugh Hardy to refurbish the interior so it could operate as a theater again.

Today’s structure incorporates the original columns and water-stained ceilings, giving the venue a Greco-Roman feel.

“The 1987 restoration preserved the ornate detail and retained its historical associations, while rebuilding the stage and stripping it out to the bare brick back wall,” says Professor Arnold Aronson at Columbia University’s theater arts program.

“It was one of the most exciting theater renovations of the past three decades.”

BAM Harvey theater, 651 Fulton St., Brooklyn, New York; +1 718 636 4100

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At Tokyo's Noh theater, performances can go on all day.

National Noh Theatre (Tokyo)

Forget cement and plasterboard – Japan’s Noh theater was constructed in 1983 from 400-year-old bishu-hinoki cypress trees.

It’s open on three sides and the seating spreads out from the stage in a fan shape.