Al Hirschfeld Theatre
|Al Hirschfeld Theatre|
The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, showing the musical The Wedding Singer, 2006.
|Address||302 West 45th Street|
|City||New York City|
|Architect||G. Albert Lansburgh|
|Owned by||Jujamcyn Theaters|
|Opened||November 11, 1924|
|Other names||Martin Beck Theatre|
Designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh for vaudeville promoter Martin Beck, the theatre opened as 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. The theatre has a seating capacity of 1,424 for musicals.
Famous appearances include Basil Rathbone as Romeo with Katharine Cornell as Juliet in December 1934; 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.
On June 21, 2003, it was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in honor of the caricaturist famous for his drawings of Broadway celebrities, and reopened on November 23, 2003, with a revival of the musical Wonderful Town.
In the Fall of 2002, Jujamcyn Theatres announced that the Martin Beck Theatre would be renamed in June of 2003 in honor of illustrator Al Hirschfeld, as Hirschfeld approached his 100th birthday. Jujamcyn President Rocco Landesman described the renaming as “an important event for the history and heritage of Broadway.”  Landesman stated that “No one working in our world is more deserving than Al Hirschfeld.” Notably, Hirschfeld has become the only visual artist to have a Broadway theater named after him.  James H. Binger, Chairman of Jujamcyn, explained that because Hirschfeld “started working in New York only two years after the Martin Beck Theatre was built, it seems wholly appropriate that the building bear his name--they have shared the street during Broadway’s golden age and beyond.”  In order to reflect how Hirschfeld’s career spanned the Martin Beck’s years of operation, a gallery was installed in the mezzanine which features 22 reproductions of the artist’s drawings portraying plays and actors who appeared at the theater.
Although Hirschfeld died prior to the official renaming on June 23, 2003, he knew that he would be receiving the honor.  A celebration and tribute to Hirschfeld was held on the evening of the renaming, featuring performers such as Carol Channing, Matthew Broderick, Barbara Cook, playwright Arthur Miller, and many other figures drawn by Hirschfeld during their careers.  Hirschfeld’s traditional aisle seat was left vacant in his honor during the presentation. The tribute opened with a screen projection of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell,  in which the artist portrays himself in his creative process and showcases his distinctive use of crow quill pen and Higgins India Ink in his drawings.
The theater constructed a new marquee to mark its renaming, featuring an illuminated version of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell.  West 45th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues was closed to traffic for the unveiling of the new marquee. The marquee was initially installed with red neon representing the “ink,” but blue neon was later substituted because the red was perceived by some as “macabre”.
- 1934: The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado
- 1934: Romeo and Juliet
- 1935: Winterset
- 1936 and 1939: Seasons of Gilbert and Sullivan
- 1937: High Tor
- 1939: Ladies and Gentlemen
- 1940: Cabin in the Sky
- 1941: Watch on the Rhine
- 1942: My Sister Eileen
- 1943: The Corn is Green
- 1945: On the Town
- 1946: The Iceman Cometh
- 1947: Antony and Cleopatra
- 1951: The Rose Tattoo
- 1953: The Crucible
- 1953: The Teahouse of the August Moon (play)
- 1956: Candide
- 1957: Orpheus Descending
- 1959: Sweet Bird of Youth
- 1960: Bye Bye Birdie
- 1961: Milk and Honey; The Happiest Girl in the World
- 1964: I Had a Ball
- 1965: Oliver!
- 1966: A Delicate Balance
- 1967: Hallelujah, Baby!
- 1968: Man of La Mancha (Transferred to Martin Beck from ANTA Washington Square Theatre, playing since 1965. The ANTA theatre was demolished in 1968.)
- 1977: Dracula
- 1980: Onward Victoria
- 1981: The Little Foxes
- 1984: The Rink
- 1985: Take Me Along
- 1987: Into the Woods
- 1989: Grand Hotel
- 1992: Guys and Dolls
- 1995: Moon Over Buffalo
- 1997: Annie
- 1998: The Sound of Music
- 1999: Kiss Me, Kate
- 2002: Man of La Mancha
- 2003: Wonderful Town
- 2005: Sweet Charity
- 2006: The Wedding Singer
- 2007: Curtains
- 2008: A Tale of Two Cities
- 2009: Hair
- 2010: Elf the Musical (Previews Nov 2010; Closed Jan 2011)(Limited engagement)
- 2011: How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Previews Feb 26, 2011; Closed May 20, 2012)
- 2012: Fela! (Limited Engagement July 9-August 4, 2012)
- 2012: Elf the Musical (Limited Engagement November 9, 2012-January 6, 2013)
- 2013: Kinky Boots (Previews began March 5, 2013; Opened April 4, 2013)
Box Office Record
The limited-engagement Elf the Musical achieved the box office record for the Al Hirschfield Theatre. The production grossed $1,572,835.50 over nine performances, for the week ending December 26, 2010.
- 3-M CHIEF BUYING THE MARTIN BECK
- Jacobs, Leonard, Backstage.com
- Windman, Matt, Theatermania.com
- Jacobs, Backstage.com
- Windman, Theatermania.com
- Pogrebin, Robin, New York Times
- Simonson, Robert, Playbill.com
- Pogrebin, New York Times
- Buckley, Michael and Portantiere, Michael, Theatermania.com
- Rizzo, Frank, The Courant
- Simonson, Robert, Playbill.com
- Pogrebin, New York Times
- BWW News Desk , broadwayworld.com
- Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p. 1184.
- Jujamcyn Theaters
- Al Hirschfeld Theatre at the Internet Broadway Database
- Telecharge.com - Official Ticket Website
- NYC Theatre - Unofficial Ticket Website
- NYTIX - Unofficial Ticket Website