Not to get too Carrie Bradshaw on you, but sometimes in New York, you get presented with some really great opportunities. I was lucky enough to be in the first audience for the newly reopened Hudson Theatre, on 44th St., and it was a true privilege. The current production, Sunday in the Park with George, is a lovely one, but the theater itself is outright beautiful.
Studio 54, when I realized it was on the list of Broadway theaters, was admittedly the one I was most excited to check off my list. It’s been a working theater as part of the Roundabout Theatre Company since 1998, having started its run by hosting Cabaret for six years. Obviously a lot of the fun is in its glittery history as a nightclub. But the space has a super impressive history.
While the Beacon is not on my List of Theaters, once I got there, I realized I had never actually been, having oddly confused it with the smaller venue Symphony Space (also on Broadway, although twenty blocks north) (any location I visited in the first six months after moving to New York tend to blur together by genre only). My foolishness and faulty memory checked, I got to really enjoy a lovely theater space.
The Beacon Theatre, located at 74th and Broadway, is a sister theater to Radio City Music Hall, under the management umbrella of the Madison Square Garden Company. It opened in 1929, owned by Warner Brothers, and was actually a movie theater up through the seventies. In the mid-seventies, two dudes named Steven and Stephen decided to update it slightly and use it as a live performance space. Since then, has been largely used as a concert venue, although it is IMAX-capable. George Carlin’s HBO specials were taped there, Cirque du Soleil has performed there, David Bowie and the Stones have played there (not at the same time), and the Allman Brothers Band have famously played there every year but one for nineteen years up until their final ever show. It’s thrice been a home stage for the Tony Awards (including 2016 Tony Awards, which you may remember fondly as “that time Hamilton won everything”).
The decor is neo-Grecian, which translates to “all the big gold statues you can handle, then make them bigger and more gold”. 30 feet tall, to be precise. All in all, it’s a really pretty space to keep you visually entertained while you wait for your paid entertainment to start.
And as requested, information about the bathrooms! There are two that I could find, on the ground floor and up on the “balcony” two staircases up. They are not large, but relatively out of the way. It’s also worth noting that if you purchase a bottled beverage, they give it to you without the cap. No carbonation sounds here!
In my years of living in New York, one thing I have never gotten tired of is going to shows. So when we were making our lists, I did a quick Wikipedia search for Broadway theatre. And they helpfully gave me a list of forty-one theaters, which was more than I expected. I did a bit of digging, both on the internet and in my collection of Playbills, and found that I had not actually visited as many Broadway theaters as I thought I had. (Only a disappointing twelve! Turns out it was multiple shows at the same theaters, which is bound to happen over time.)
The Bernard B. Jacobs on West 45th St., originally the Royale, was, at the time of my visit and of this writing, home of The Color Purple. The theater is 89 years old, built in 1927, and was part of a three-theater complex owned by the Shubert Organization that included the John Golden (which I have been to) and the Majestic (which I haven’t). The Jacobs has in its time has seen productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, A Raisin in the Sun, Glengarry Glen Ross, the less-successful American history musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Tony-winning Once, among others.