Al Hirschfeld Theatre

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, formerly known as the Martin Beck Theatre, is a Broadway theatre located at 302 West 45th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The Hirschfeld is one of five theatres owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theaters and the current president Jordan Roth.[3] The theatre has a seating capacity of 1,424.[4]

Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Martin Beck Theatre
Hirschfeldtheatre.jpg
The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, showing the musical The Wedding Singer, 2006.
Address302 West 45th Street
New York City
United States
Coordinates40°45′33″N 73°59′21″W / 40.7592887°N 73.989178°W / 40.7592887; -73.989178Coordinates: 40°45′33″N 73°59′21″W / 40.7592887°N 73.989178°W / 40.7592887; -73.989178
OwnerJujamcyn Theaters
TypeBroadway
Capacity1,424
ProductionMoulin Rouge!
Construction
OpenedNovember 11, 1924
ArchitectG. Albert Lansburgh
Interior decoration: Albert Herter
Website
www.jujamcyn.com
DesignatedNovember 4, 1987[1]
Reference no.1315[1]
Designated entityFacade
DesignatedNovember 4, 1987[2]
Reference no.1316[2]
Designated entityLobby and auditorium interior
Daytime
Ticket booth showing the still visible Martin Beck Theatre name above the window
View to the stage
Auditorium ceiling

DesignEdit

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre was designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh for vaudeville promoter Martin Beck in the Byzantine and Moorish styles. A large arcaded street front spanning the length of the facade reminiscent of a movie palace and a large marquee on the roof gives the theatre a distinctive look on the quieter, west of Eighth Avenue side of 45th Street. The auditorium seats the 1,424 patrons over two levels, with an extended sloping orchestra and mezzanine, all under an elaborate, colorful Moorish painted dome. Distinctive details such as single boxes, the large proscenium arch and ornate stained glass doors in the rear of the auditorium give the room character, leading both the interior and exterior to be designated New York City landmarks in 1987.

HistoryEdit

The Martin Beck Theatre with a production of Madame Pompadour on November 11, 1924. It was the only theatre in New York that was owned outright without a mortgage. It was designed to be the most opulent theatre of its time and has dressing rooms for 200 actors. After Martin Beck's death in 1940, the theatre was managed by his wife Louise Heims Beck who was a co-founder of the American Theatre Wing and played an essential role in the establishment of the Tony Awards.[5]

Famous appearances include Basil Rathbone as Romeo with Katharine Cornell as Juliet in December 1934; Burgess Meredith as Mio in Winterset in 1935; Richard Gere in Bent; Frank Langella in Dracula; Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes; Christina Applegate as the title role in Sweet Charity; David Hyde Pierce as Lt. Coffi in the musical Curtains; and Daniel Radcliffe in the latest revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The theatre was purchased in 1965 by William L. McKnight of Jujamcyn Theaters.

21st centuryEdit

In late 2002, Jujamcyn Theaters announced that the Martin Beck Theatre would be renamed in honor of illustrator Al Hirschfeld, as Hirschfeld approached his 100th birthday.[6] Jujamcyn President Rocco Landesman described the renaming as "an important event for the history and heritage of Broadway".[7] Hirschfeld is the only visual artist to have a Broadway theatre named after him.[8] To reflect how Hirschfeld's career spanned Martin Beck's years of operation, a gallery was installed in the mezzanine that features 22 reproductions of the artist's drawings portraying plays and actors who appeared at the theatre.[8]

Although Hirschfeld died before the official renaming,[9] he knew that he would be receiving the honor.[10] A celebration and tribute to Hirschfeld were held on the evening of the renaming on June 23, 2003,[10][11] featuring performers drawn by Hirschfeld during his career.[12][13] Hirschfeld's traditional aisle seat was left vacant in his honor,[10] and the tribute opened with a screen projection of Hirschfeld's Self-Portrait As An Inkwell.[14] The theater constructed a new marquee to mark its renaming, featuring an illuminated version of Hirschfeld's Self-Portrait as an Inkwell.[12] The marquee was initially installed with red neon representing the "ink", but blue neon was later substituted after the red was seen as "macabre".[15]

The Al Hirschfeld reopened on November 23, 2003, with a revival of the musical Wonderful Town.[16] Landesman bought the Al Hirschfeld and Jujamcyn's four other theaters in 2005, along with the air rights above them.[17] Jordan Roth joined Jujuamcyn as a resident producer the same year. In 2009, Roth acquired a 50% stake in the company and took over full operations when Landesman joined the National Endowments of the Arts.[18][19]

The theater closed on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] It reopened on September 24, 2021, with Moulin Rouge! returning.[21]

Box office recordEdit

Moulin Rouge! achieved the box office record for the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The production grossed $2,716,892 over nine performances, for the week ending December 29, 2019.[22]

Notable productionsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission 1987, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1987, p. 1.
  3. ^ Cohen, Patricia (September 8, 2009). "Jujamcyn Names Jordan Roth President, Signaling a Broadway Youth Trend". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Al Hirschfeld Theatre". www.broadway.com. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  5. ^ Alfred E. Clark (March 17, 1978). "Louise Heims Beck, Widow of the Producer And a Founder of American Theater Wing" (PDF). The New York Times. p. 33.
  6. ^ McKinley, Jesse (September 26, 2002). "A Theater Gets A New Name: Al Hirschfeld". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  7. ^ "Martin Beck Renamed Al Hirschfeld Theater" by Leonard Jacobs, backstage.com
  8. ^ a b "Hirschfeld Theatre Dedication Ceremony Set for June 23" by Matt Windman, theatermania.com
  9. ^ Gussow, Mel (January 25, 2003). "Remembering Al Hirschfeld, The 'Line King' of Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Pogrebin, Robin (June 24, 2003). "A Theater Is Renamed for Al Hirschfeld". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth (June 23, 2003). "Stars Honor the Late 'Line King' June 23 When Bway's Beck Becomes The Hirschfeld". Playbill. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Broadway Salutes Al Hirschfeld at Unveiling of Caricaturist's New Theatre" by Simonson, Robert, Playbill Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Broadway recalls Al Hirschfeld—and names theater after him". Press and Sun-Bulletin. June 29, 2003. p. 59. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  14. ^ Buckley, Michael and Portantiere, Michael, Theatermania.com
  15. ^ Playbill.com Archived November 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Wasserstein, Wendy (November 23, 2003). "THEATER; Betty Comden's Wonderful Hometown". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  17. ^ Smith, Dinitia (February 17, 2005). "A New Owner for 5 Theaters on Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  18. ^ Cohen, Patricia (September 8, 2009). "A New Force on Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  19. ^ Jones, Kenneth (January 22, 2013). "Jordan Roth Is Now Principal Owner of Broadway's Jujamcyn Theaters". Playbill. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  20. ^ Paulson, Michael (March 12, 2020). "Broadway, Symbol of New York Resilience, Shuts Down Amid Virus Threat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on September 16, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  21. ^ Meyer, Dan (September 24, 2021). "Moulin Rouge! Reopens on Broadway September 24". Playbill. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  22. ^ Broadway League Grosses, [1], broadwayleague.com

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit