Stephen Sondheim Theatre
The Stephen Sondheim Theatre as the home of Anything Goes
|Address||124 West 43rd Street
New York City
|Owner||Bank of America
(operated by the Roundabout Theatre Company)
|Production||Beautiful: The Carole King Musical|
|Years active||1918-1968; 2001-2004; 2009-2010 (Henry Miller's Theatre)
1998 (as Kit Kat Club)
2010-present (Stephen Sondheim Theatre)
Designed in the Neo-classical style by architects Paul R. Allen and Ingalls & Hoffman, it was built by and named for actor-producer Henry Miller. His financial backers were Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, owner of the lot at 124 West 43rd, and Klaw & Erlanger. The original theatre had 950 seats. It opened on April 1, 1918 with the play The Fountain of Youth. It was the first air-conditioned theater in Manhattan.
The theatre had its first hit show with Noël Coward's The Vortex in 1926. Following Miller's death that year, the theater was managed by his son, Gilbert, who bought the Klaw & Erlanger interest and paid 25% of the gross take of each play he produced to the Milbank Memorial Fund, Anderson's legatee. From the 1930s through the late 1960s, the theater enjoyed its golden years, with performances by Helen Hayes, Leslie Howard, Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, and Ruth Chatterton gracing its stage.
In 1966, the Miller family sold the theatre to the Nederlanders, who sold it on in 1968 to Seymour Durst. It showed feature films as the Park-Miller until it became a porn theater called Avon-at-the-Hudson. In 1978, it was converted into the discotheque Xenon. On August 31, 1985, the space opened as SHOUT, a nightclub featuring music from the 1950s and 60s, which operated for six years. The space reopened in 1995 as Club Expo. In 1998, it returned to performance use as the Kit Kat Club, borrowing its name from the club featured in the popular revival of Cabaret it was then housing. It was rechristened the Henry Miller when Urinetown opened in 2001.
The theater was closed in 2004, the interior demolished and subsequently rebuilt by the Durst Organization to make way for the 57-story Bank of America Tower. Its neo-Georgian facade, landmarked by the city, remains, and includes a 1,055-seat theater designed by New York firm of Cook+Fox Architects within the new structure. With bank facilities located above, architects were forced to design and build the new theater underground. This makes Henry Miller's Theatre one of only two subterranean houses on Broadway. In 2007, the Roundabout Theatre Company announced it would operate Henry Miller's Theatre as its third Broadway theater. The new theater opened in September 2009 with the Roundabout Theatre Company production of a revival of the musical Bye Bye Birdie.
In 2010, Dame Edna collaborated with cabaret pianist and singer Michael Feinstein for a two-person revue entitled "All About Me", based on the concept that both were rivals who were forced to work together for the show's sake. The show opened as the second production for the newly refurbished theater and was planned to run from March 18 through July 18, 2010 (with previews begininning on February 22). However, lukewarm reviews and low ticket sales led to the limited engagement being cut short and closing on April 4, 2010, after 27 previews and 20 regular performances.
On March 22, 2010, on his eightieth birthday, it was announced that Henry Miller's Theatre would be renamed to honour American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The official unveiling and lighting of the marquee of the new Stephen Sondheim Theatre took place in a ceremony on September 15, 2010.
The first production to open at the new Stephen Sondheim Theatre was The Pee-wee Herman Show, which played a limited ten-week engagement from October 26, 2010 through January 2, 2011, and was followed by a revival of Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey, which opened April 7, 2011 and closed on July 8, 2012. The theater is currently home to the new musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
- The New York Times June 30, 1921 p.7; The New Yorker June 5, 1943 p.30
- The New Yorker, June 5, 1943, p.30
- MILLER THEATER BRINGS $500,000; Producer's Wife Is Selling It to Detroit Chain
- Henry Miller's Theatre Sold
- Simonson, Robert. "Henry Miller gets a new theatre" Playbill.com November 28, 2009
- Healy, Patrick. "White Way Gets a 'Green' Theater"The New York Times, May 3, 2009
- Simonson, Robert. "Henry Miller Gets A New Theatre pg. 2" Playbill.com, November 28, 2009
- Robertson, Campbell. "Roundabout to Fill a Brand-New 89-Year-Old Theater", The New York Times, May 10, 2007
- Jones, Kenneth. "Broadway's Newest Theatre, Henry Miller's, Will Open in September With Bye Bye Birdie", playbill.com, May 3, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam.Feinstein and Everage's All About Me Closes on Broadway" playbill.com, April 4, 2010
- Healy, Patrick. "One More Birthday Gift for Sondheim: A Broadway Theater", The New York Times, March 22, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth."Light the Lights! Stephen Sondheim Theatre Will Be Unveiled Sept. 15" playbill.com, August 30, 2010
- "Pee Wee Herman Show Will Celebrate the Holidays on Broadway, Run Extended" on Playbill.com
- Henderson, Mary C.,The City and the Theatre (2004), Watson-Guptill, ISBN 0-8230-0637-9, pp. 244–245
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stephen Sondheim Theatre.|
- Stephen Sondheim Theatre page at Roundabout Theatre Company website
- Stephen Sondheim Theatre at the Internet Broadway Database
- Stephen Sondheim Theatre in the New York City Theater Guide