New York City Landmark Guide | Helen Hayes Theater

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Helen Hayes Theater



New York City Landmark Guide

Helen Hayes Theater

former Wintrhop Ames Theater | former Times Hall | former Anne Nichols' Little Theater | nee Little Theater

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Helen Hayes Theater

240 W 44th Street
between 7th & 8th Avenues

Completed 1912  Architect Ingalls & Hoffman

Remodeled 1917  Architect Herbert J Krapp

Theaters became smaller after the turn of the century; many people who had been dependent on less expensive upper-balcony seats for their weekly entertainment turned to the new, even cheaper, movie houses, leaving legitimate theater seats empty. Producer Winthrop Ames' Little Theater seated 299 people when it first opened in 1912, part of the movement to intimate 'drawing room' drama typified by Belasco's Stuyvesant Theater in 1906. The theater's Colonial Revival facade echoes the domesticity of the Belasco's, a block east. Unlike the Belasco's neo-Georgian interior, Ingalls & Hoffman used Colonial Revival themes throughout. In 1917 Herbert Krapp was commissioned to remodel the theater, a revenue-producing balcony being the centerpiece of that effort

This is the second theater named to honor actress Helen Hayes. The first Helen Hayes theater (nee Folies Bergere)--along with the Astor Theater, the Bijou Theater, Gaiety Theater and the Morosco Theater--was destroyed in 1982 to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel (working name Portman Hotel, after its designer John C Portman; aka the Toaster Hotel, after its shape) on Broadway between 45th & 46th Streets. It was this destruction that resulted in the landmark designations of virtually every surviving Broadway theater built prior to 1930. The then Winthrop Ames Theater was renamed in honor of Miss Hayes in July 1983

The Little Theater opened March 12, 1912 with a production of The Pigeon. Only a few distinguished productions appeared on its stage during Ames' active management and that of Anne Nichols in the early '30s. In 1931 the theater was sold to the New York Times, which used it as a business conference center called, appropriately enough, Times Hall. It has also been operated as the home of radio and television studios, interspersed here and there with legitimate fare until returning full-time to the legitimate fold in 1983

1920 This is the third house in which Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Beyond the Horizon has run. Stars Richard Bennet, Edward Arnold and Helen McKellar have trekked from the Morosco, to the Coronet and now to the Little

1920 Rachel Crother's drama He and She flopped the first time around when it was staged as The Herefords in 1911. At 28 performances it doesn't do much better this time

1920 The First Year, a Frank Craven comedy, runs for 725 performances. It stars Frank Craven

1926 Marc Connelly has a comedy hit, The Wisdom Tooth, starring Thomas Mitchell and Mary Phillips

1929 Rachel Crother's comedy Let Us Be Gay is a 363 performance hit. Starring are Warren William and Francine Larrimore

1931 Katharine Alexander and Merle Maddern appear in Elmer Rice's The Left Bank

1933 The last production before the theater goes dark stars Lloyd Nolan in James S Hagan's dramatic hit One Sunday Afternoon

1963 Just to prove that legitimate shows did have brief runs at Times Hall from time to time, Langston Hughes' Tambourines to Glory has just that--a brief run

1977 Robert Picardo and Danny Aiello, two stars, are featured in Gemini, the Albert Innaurato drama that racks up 1,788 performances

1982 Torch Song Trilogy cements Tony-winning author and Tony-winning star Harvey Fierstein's life role of bringing sympathetic gay characters to mass audiences

1990 The Craig Lucas drama Prelude to a Kiss features Timothy Hutton and Mary-Louise Parker

1993 Lynn Redgrave shares the stage with two men in her one-woman show Shakespeare for My Father. The spirits of both William and Michael fill the theater

1995 A surprise hit, Rob Becker's comedy Defending the Caveman fills the theater 671 times

1997 The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Albert Uhry's drama, stars Dana Ivey, Jessica Hecht and Paul Rudd. It wins the Tony for best play

1999 Epic Proportions, the much expected star vehicle for Kristen Chenoweth opens September 30th. The Larry Coen-David Crane comedy can't hold on and closes just shy of the holiday tourist season



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