SECOND STAGE THEATRE
PURCHASES LANDMARK HELEN HAYES THEATRE
36 Year Old Theatre Company Establishes Only Broadway House
Dedicated Exclusively to Producing
The Work of Living American Playwrights
The Rockwell Group to begin Renovations in 2016
Second Stage Theatre to Present its First Production
At The Helen Hayes in the 2017-18 Season
April 20, 2015 — Second Stage Theatre today announced that it has completed its purchase of the Helen Hayes Theatre, located at 240 W. 44th Street. With this new home, Second Stage will be the only theatre company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to developing and producing works by living American playwrights. Second Stage Theatre is currently scheduled to begin renovations and upgrades to the theatre in 2016 and will stage its first production on Broadway during the 2017-18 season.
“This is an amazing moment, not only for Second Stage Theatre, but for American playwrights and American theatregoers,” said Second Stage Founder and Artistic Director Carole Rothman. “Second Stage takes the commitment to producing new plays very seriously. We pledge to keep our new theatre a bustling center of activity on Broadway, nurturing not only new plays from established and emerging writers, but also feeding a new, diverse generation of theatregoers who will help keep American plays at the heart of the Broadway experience.”
“It’s immensely exciting that Second Stage is expanding their breadth and vision. Broadway needs a space that will showcase the rich diversity of voices that make up the American theatre,” said playwright and Board member Lynn Nottage. “I can’t wait to see how this new space shifts the creative conversation on Broadway, as it will be introducing a range of artists who previously may not have been represented there.”
“We are very grateful to the many foundations, private donors and Second Stage Trustees who have confidence in this project, as well as our phenomenal staff and professional colleagues who have worked tirelessly to make this very exciting moment possible,” said Second Stage Executive Director Casey Reitz. “Owning the Helen Hayes Theatre will finally provide Second Stage with a permanent home in midtown Manhattan and a firm foundation for long-term planning and financial stability. We are thrilled for the long-anticipated opportunity to be part of Broadway and to renovate this beautiful intimate theatre in the heart of Times Square.”
“My relationship with Second Stage goes back over 20 years. As an actor, as an audience member and now as a member of the Board, I have watched Carole Rothman guide this extraordinary American theater with a singular vision: bringing the work of living American playwrights to the stage,” said Second Stage alumnae and Board member Tony Goldwyn. “Carole’s passion for nurturing artists, for demanding that we push ourselves to our full potential and, more importantly, to realize the potential of the play makes her a visionary among artistic directors. The acquisition of the Helen Hayes Theatre ushers in a new era for Second Stage that will be a rare gift to Broadway audiences and artists alike.”
RENOVATING A LANDMARK BROADWAY THEATRE
Second Stage Theatre has enlisted The Rockwell Group to make renovations and updates to the 103 year old landmark building.
“When Second Stage commissioned us to renovate the Helen Hayes Theatre I couldn’t think of a more perfect project,” said David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group. “Broadway theatres contribute so much to the cultural vibrancy of New York that re-imagining this architecturally unique theatre for a new generation of theatergoers is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
A major contributor to Second Stage Theatre’s renovation of the Helen Hayes Theatre is the City of New York.
“Second Stage’s expansion into the Helen Hayes Theatre will bring joy to that many more people,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to have helped with funding Second Stage in the past, because they’re the kind of institution that enriches our city, showcasing the work of emerging artists and offering multiple programs to bring theatre to wider audience.”
“Midtown Manhattan is the global capital of theatre,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “In addition to the economic benefits that it will spur, Second Stage Theatre’s purchase of the landmark Helen Hayes will allow it to continue its tradition of bringing the best American plays to audiences for many years to come. I am proud to represent Second Stage Theatre in the New York City Council.”
Second Stage will continue to lease and operate the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, their original theatre on the Upper West Side, as well as the Tony Kiser Theatre in Midtown Manhattan.
ABOUT SECOND STAGE THEATRE
Under the artistic direction of Carole Rothman, SECOND STAGE THEATRE produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America’s best contemporary theatre, including 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes; The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown; Dogfight by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Peter Duchan; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage; Trust and Lonely, I’m Not by Paul Weitz; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz; Everyday Rapture by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith; Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo; Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl; The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; Jitney by August Wilson; Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West; Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein; Crowns by Regina Taylor; Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim; Afterbirth: Kathy & Mo’s Greatest Hits by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy; This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants by Ricky Jay; Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe; A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller; Little Murders by Jules Feiffer; The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry; and Tiny Alice by Edward Albee.
The company’s more than 130 citations include the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley, Next to Normal) and Best Score (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal); the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed); the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin, …Spelling Bee) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler, …Spelling Bee); the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman for Metamorphoses); the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 27 Obie Awards, seven Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Clarence Derwent Awards, 12 Drama Desk Awards, nine Theatre World Awards, 17 Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Critics Circle Award and 23 AUDELCO Awards.
Second Stage Theatre’s original home is the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. The company’s first three seasons were presented in a 99-seat house located in the penthouse of a West Side Hotel. The unorthodox Upper West Side location proved a critical asset in building an audience and a loyal subscriber base, and added a new segment to the theatre-going public. In 1984, Second Stage presented its first production at its new home on Broadway at 76th Street, the 108-seat McGinn/Cazale Theatre, deepening its roots as a fixture of this neighborhood where so little theatre was available at the time.
In 1999, Second Stage Theatre opened its state-of-the-art, 296-seat theatre at 43rd Street, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The Second Stage Theatre Uptown series was inaugurated in 2002 to showcase the work of emerging artists at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre at 76th Street, including The Mystery Plays by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman, The Triple Happiness by Brooke Berman, Swimming in the Shallows by Adam Bock, Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, Bachelorette by Leslye Headland, Warrior Class by Kenneth Lin, and Murder For Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. The Theatre supports artists through several programs that include residencies, fellowships and commissions, and engages students and community members through education and outreach programs.
Second Stage Theatre will present the World Premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried at the Tony Kiser Theatre. Previews begin April 28 and opening night is May 19. Second Stage Theatre Uptown will present the World Premiere of Emily Schwend’s The Other Thing, directed by Lucie Tiberghein, beginning previews May 12 and opening May 21 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.
ABOUT THE HELEN HAYES THEATRE
When it opened in 1912, the Little Theatre (as it was then known) had only 300 seats and was built as an intimate house to present new playwrights and experimental dramas that were deemed too risky to stage in large Broadway theatres.
In the 1920’s, theatre architect and designer Herbert J. Krapp redesigned the space to increase capacity to nearly 500 and improve the acoustics. In 1931, the building was sold to the New York Times and converted into a conference hall renamed New York Times Hall. CBS used the theatre as a radio facility for a time, but it was reconverted by ABC into a legitimate theatre in 1958, once again as the Little Theatre. When not being used as a theatrical venue, the building was leased to CBS Radio and the Westinghouse Corporation, among others, and housed television and radio shows for ABC and CBS, among them The Dick Clark Show, Who Do You Trust with Johnny Carson, and the Merv Griffin and David Frost shows.
After the original Helen Hayes Theatre on 46th Street was razed in the 1980s to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the Little Theatre was renamed the Helen Hayes to honor the then still-living legend. Notable engagements include a five-year run of Albert Innaurato’s Gemini, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-winner Torch Song Trilogy, Tony-winner The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry, Dirty Blonde, Golda’s Balcony, and the Tony nominated musicals Xanadu and Rock of Ages. The venue remains the smallest house on Broadway. In 1987, it was designated as a Landmark Site by the City of New York’s Landmark Preservation Commission.
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