Al Hirschfeld Theatre

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 302 West 45th Street in midtown Manhattan.

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, and is primarily host to large, ensemble plays and musical productions. It is one of the two Broadway theaters west of Eighth Avenue.

Famous appearances include Basil Rathbone as Romeo with Katharine Cornell as Juliet in December 1934; Burgess Meredith as Mio in Winterset in 1935; Richard Gere in Bent; 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.

This is one of five theatres owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theatres, who purchased it in 1965 from the Beck family.[1]

Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Martin Beck Theatre
The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, showing the musical The Wedding Singer, 2006.
Address302 West 45th Street
New York City
United States
Coordinates40°45′33″N 73°59′21″W / 40.7592887°N 73.989178°W
OwnerJujamcyn Theaters
ProductionKinky Boots
OpenedNovember 11, 1924
ArchitectG. Albert Lansburgh
Interior decoration - Albert Herter
Hirschfeld daytime jeh
Al Hirschfeld Theatre ticket box NYC
Ticket booth.
Al Hirschfeld Theatre stage NYC 2007
View to the stage.
Al Hirschfeld Theatre ceiling NYC 2007
Auditorium ceiling.


The Hirschfeld was designed by Lansburgh in a Byzantine and Moorish architectural style. A large arcaded street front spanning the length of the facade reminiscent of a movie palace and a large marquee on the roof gives the theater a distinctive look on the quieter, west of Eighth Avenue side of 45th Street. The auditorium seats the 1,424 patrons over two levels, with a long sloping orchestra and mezzanine, all under an elaborate, colorful Moorish painted dome. Distinctive details such as single boxes, the large proscenium arch and elaborate stained glass doors in the rear of the auditorium give the room character, leading to both the interior and exterior of the theater designated New York City landmarks in 1987.

2003 renaming

In late 2002, Jujamcyn Theatres announced that the Martin Beck Theatre would be renamed in June 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.” [2] 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.[3] 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.” [4] 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.[5]

Although Hirschfeld died prior to the official renaming on June 23, 2003, he knew that he would be receiving the honor.[6] 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.[7] Hirschfeld’s traditional aisle seat was left vacant in his honor during the presentation.[8] The tribute opened with a screen projection of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell,[9] 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.[10]

The theater constructed a new marquee to mark its renaming, featuring an illuminated version of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell. [11] West 45th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues was closed to traffic for the unveiling of the new marquee.[12] 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”.[13]

Notable productions

Box office record

Kinky Boots achieved the box office record for the Al Hirschfield Theatre. The production grossed $2,247,240 over nine performances, for the week ending December 29, 2013.[14]


  2. ^ Jacobs, Leonard,
  3. ^ Windman, Matt,
  4. ^ Jacobs,
  5. ^ Windman,
  6. ^ Pogrebin, Robin, New York Times
  7. ^ Simonson, Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Pogrebin, New York Times
  9. ^ Buckley, Michael and Portantiere, Michael,
  10. ^ Rizzo, Frank, The Courant
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert, Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Pogrebin, New York Times
  13. ^ Archived 2013-11-05 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ BWW News Desk [1],


  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p. 1184.

External links

A Tale of Two Cities (musical)

A Tale of Two Cities is a musical with book, music and lyrics by Jill Santoriello based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens.

After tryouts at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, in October and November 2007, the show opened on Broadway on September 18, 2008, following previews from August 19 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The musical closed on November 9, 2008, after a run of 60 performances and 33 previews. The show received the 2009 Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding New Musical for its Broadway run. James Barbour received a 2009 Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance as Sydney Carton.

Baker Street (musical)

Baker Street is a musical with a book by Jerome Coopersmith and music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel.

Beth Leavel

Beth Leavel (born November 1, 1955) is an American stage and screen actress and singer.

Bob Martin (comedian)

Bob Martin is a television and musical theatre actor and writer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was born in London, England in 1962.

Caissie Levy

Caissie Levy (born April 15, 1981) is a Canadian actress and singer known for her performances in musical theatre on Broadway and in the West End. Her early credits included Penny Pingleton in Hairspray, Elphaba in Wicked and Sheila in Hair. She originated the role of Molly Jensen in Ghost the Musical and played Fantine in the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Miserables. Levy originated, and is currently Elsa in Frozen on Broadway.

Elf (musical)

Elf is a musical based on the motion picture of the same name, with a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. The book is adapted by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan from the 2003 film. The musical ran on Broadway in the Christmas seasons of 2010-11 and 2012–13, and also toured the U.S. in 2012. A new tour launched in 2014.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (musical)

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a musical by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Mead's 1952 book of the same name. The story concerns young, ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch, who, with the help of the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, rises from window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company.

The musical, starring Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee, opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway in October 1961, running for 1,417 performances. The show won seven Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle award, and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

In 1967, a film based on the musical was released by United Artists, with Morse and Vallee re-creating their stage roles.

A 1995 revival was mounted at the same theatre as the original production (now named the Richard Rodgers Theatre). It ran for 548 performances and starred Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally. A 50th-anniversary Broadway revival directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford and starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette opened on March 27, 2011, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre and ran for 473 performances.

Jill Santoriello

Jill Santoriello is an American musician, composer, lyricist, and author. She is a self-taught musician whose award-winning first musical A Tale of Two Cities was an Outer Critics Circle Award nominee for Outstanding New Musical in 2009. Her newest musical "It Happened In Key West", co-written with Jason Huza and Jeremiah James, will have its world premiere at London's Charing Cross Theatre starring Wade McCollum beginning July 4, 2018.Santoriello was born in Summit, New Jersey and grew up in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and graduated from Governor Livingston High School in 1983.On September 18, 2008, Santoriello's Broadway musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities officially opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York, from previews on August 19. The musical's producers announced on November 4 that the show would be closing on November 16, but closed earlier than expected on November 9.

In addition to the 2009 Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding New Musical, "Tale" also received an additional Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best Actor and 3 Drama Desk Award nominations. The world premiere production at the Asolo Theatre was nominated for 12 Sarasota Theater Awards and won 10, including "Best Musical".

In 2009, Santoriello adapted the musical for the concert stage and co-produced a television filming of the concert at the historic Theater Royal in Brighton, England. This television program was broadcast on public television, WGBH-Boston in December 2009 and a DVD of the show is available on Amazon. Santoriello also co-produced an accompanying studio recording of the score for simultaneous release with the television show.

She also contributed to the music and lyrics to the musical version of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Music by Kevin Walsh and lyrics by Mike Gibb.Among her new projects are a musical version of the 1913 Eleanor H. Porter novel Pollyanna.

Jujamcyn Theaters

The Jujamcyn Theaters , formerly the Jujamcyn Amusement Corporation, is a theatrical producing and theatre-ownership company in New York City. For many years Jujamcyn was owned by James H. Binger, former Chairman of Honeywell, and his wife Virginia McKnight Binger. The organization is now owned by its President, Jordan Roth, and President Emeritus, Rocco Landesman.

The third-largest theatre owner on Broadway, behind the Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization, Jujamcyn owns five of the 41 Broadway district playhouses, but has created a much-envied business model that has, at times, accounted for as much as one-third of the gross revenues on Broadway. This business model has involved the combination of real estate – Broadway theatre ownership – and producing –active development of new shows and scripts. Jujamcyn has had some notable successes with this model, which has prompted other theatre operators to emulate this approach, to varying degrees.

Kinky Boots (musical)

Kinky Boots is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein.

Based on the 2005 British film Kinky Boots, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth and inspired by true events, the musical tells the story of Charlie Price. Having inherited a shoe factory from his father, Charlie forms an unlikely partnership with cabaret performer and drag queen Lola to produce a line of high-heeled boots and save the business. In the process, Charlie and Lola discover that they are not so different after all.

Following the show's conception in 2006, the creative team was assembled by 2010. The original production of Kinky Boots premiered at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago in October 2012, with both direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, and starring Stark Sands and Billy Porter as Charlie and Lola, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4, 2013, following previews that began on March 3, 2013. The musical began its US tour in 2014.

Having initially been less well received by theatre critics and at the box office than another 2013 Broadway production, Matilda the Musical, Kinky Boots entered the 2013 awards season as an underdog. However, less than a month after opening, Kinky Boots surpassed this rival with audiences in weekly box office gross and later enjoyed a post-Tony boost in advance sales. The production earned a season-high 13 nominations and 6 Tony wins, including Best Musical and Best Score for Lauper in her first outing as a Broadway songwriter, making her the first woman to win alone in that category. The musical's cast album premiered at number one on the Billboard Cast Albums Chart and number fifty-one on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2016, it won three Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.

Les Minski

Les Minski is an American singer and stage actor.

Minski has been cast as the Marquis St. Evremonde in the Broadway musical adaptation of 'A Tale of Two Cities' opening for preview on August 19, 2008 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York.

Moulin Rouge! (musical)

Moulin Rouge! is a jukebox musical with a book by John Logan. The musical is based on the 2001 film of the same name directed by Baz Luhrmann and written by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce.The musical premiered on July 10, 2018 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston. On November 19, 2018, it was announced that Moulin Rouge! would open on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, beginning on June 28, 2019 with an opening night set for July 25.

Natalie Toro

Natalie Toro is a New York City-born singer and stage, television, and film actor. She debuted at the Apollo Theater at the age of five. She studied piano and voice at the Manhattan School of Music and the High School of Music and Art until the age of 18. She attended the Boston Conservatory of Music earning a BFA in Musical Theater.

In 1999, she began a long journey with A Tale of Two Cities, a musical by Jill Santoriello. Toro later left for a Broadway-aimed tour of Evita. The tour's plans for Broadway were scrapped. In 2002, she performed the role of Madame Defarge for the concept recording of the musical. In 2004, she began to tour with Jesus Christ Superstar, both while Sebastian Bach was on the tour and after he left. In 2007, she was cast in the Broadway musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities in Sarasota, Florida at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. She received a 2007 Sarasota Magazine Award for Best Supporting Theatre Actress and received good reviews. In March 2008, the opening for previews on August 19, 2008 was set at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York, with an official opening of September 18. The show's opening date coincided with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis of 2007-2008. That crisis, coupled with mainly negative critical notices, forced the show to close on November 9, 2008.

On November 23, 2008, Toro released her second solo-CD, which was self-titled "Natalie Toro".

Richard H. Blake

Richard H. Blake (born May 17, 1975 as Richard Harrison Thomas) is an American musical actor.

Blake made his Broadway debut in Teddy & Alice, starring Len Cariou at the Minskoff Theatre in 1987. Following that he appeared as Boy McDuff in Macbeth, starring Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson, which opned on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in 1988.Blake then starred as the title character in the 1989 Broadway musical Prince of Central Park. At 14, he became the youngest Broadway performer to have his name above the title of the show. However, the show closed after only 4 performances.He appeared on Star Search in 1990, beating future Tony-winning actress Sutton Foster.One of his earliest roles on Broadway was taking over the role of Roger Davis in Rent. In 2001, Blake took over the role of Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, a musical adaptation of the film of the same name, having previously starred in Footloose. He also took over the role of Link Larkin in the Broadway production of Hairspray.

He was seen on Broadway in The Wedding Singer in 2006, originating the role of Glen Guglia at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York. He then went on to star in the musical version of Legally Blonde at the Palace Theatre, originating the role of Warner Huntington III alongside such stars as Laura Bell Bundy and Christian Borle. He can be heard on both The Wedding Singer and Legally Blonde cast recordings.

He finished a lengthy run as Fiyero on the First National tour of Wicked. He replaced Cliffton Hall on November 18, 2008. He toured across North America for over two years, playing his final performance on February 13, 2011. Blake then replaced Kyle Dean Massey as Fiyero in the Broadway production of Wicked beginning March 29, 2011. He exited the Broadway company on July 29, 2012, and was replaced by Massey. Blake subsequently joined his third production of Wicked, this time, the tour across Asia. He replaced David Harris as Fiyero beginning August 7 in Seoul, South Korea.

After leaving Wicked, Blake joined the Broadway cast of Matilda the Musical where he played the roles of the Escapologist, Sergei, and the Party Entertainer. He then took over the role of Tommy DeVito in the Broadway production of Jersey Boys beginning January 9, 2014.He starred as Lorenzo in the musical adaptation of A Bronx Tale on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre. The musical opened officially on December 1, 2016 and closed on August 5, 2018.

Richard Pilbrow

Richard Pilbrow (born 28 April 1933 in Beckenham, Kent, England) is an internationally renowned stage lighting designer, author, theatre design consultant, and theatrical producer, film producer and television producer. He was the first British lighting designer to light a Broadway musical on the Broadway stage with the musical Zorba.In the 1950s, Pilbrow entered the Central School of Speech and Drama in London as a stage management student after serving two years in the Royal Air Force.In 1957, Pilbrow co-founded the lighting rental company Theatre Projects with Bryan Kendall, which expanded to include a production company in 1963 to produce and mount the London production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum with set designer Tony Walton and American Producer Hal Prince. In 1963 Pilbrow became lighting director to Laurence Olivier for the National Theatre at Chichester and the Old Vic Theatre. From 1966 he joined the National Theatre Building Committee and the following year was appointed theatre consultant to the new National Theatre on the South Bank. He was responsible for the stage design, backstage planning and all the performance equipment design (with Richard Brett) of the Olivier and Lyttelton Theatres. Theatre Projects Consultants, with Iain Mackintosh, was responsible for the design of the Cottesloe (now Dorfman) Theatre. Theatre Projects Consultants, which designs theatres and performing arts buildings, has gone on to design world-renowned spaces such as the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, on which he wrote a book. Pilbrow is now chairman Emeritus of the firm.Pilbrow worked on Broadway for the first time as the projection designer, with lighting designer Jean Rosenthal of Prince's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. A year later, his second projection assignment on Broadway with Golden Boy allowed him to work with lighting designer Tharon Musser. Also in 1964, Pilbrow and Robert Ornbo were the first English lighting designers to ever be invited to join the United Scenic Artists. Pilbrow went on to light eleven Broadway shows—earning Tony nominations for Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and The Life.

In 1970, he published the book Stage Lighting Design: The Art, The Craft, The Life which is still a standard textbook in lighting programs in both America and Britain. A new edition of the book was published in September 2008. In 2011 his autobiographical account "A Theatre Project — A Backstage Story" was published.

In 1974 he produced the film Swallows and Amazons.

Pillbrow was the lighting designer for the 2008 Jill Santoriello musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway. He won the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Show Boat and was nominated for the same award for A Tale of Two Cities in 2009.

National Life Stories conducted an oral history interview (C1173/06) with Hudson in 2006 for its An Oral History of Theatre Design collection held by the British Library.Pilbrow is a joint founder in the Association of British Theatre Technicians, Society of Theatre Consultants, The Society of British Theatre Designers, and the Association of Lighting Designers. Pilbrow served two terms on the United States Institute for Theatre Technology's (USITT) Directors at Large and was also elected a Fellow of the Institute in 2001. He is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts and London's Central School of Speech and Drama.

Sasha Allen

Sasha Sierra Allen (born June 4, 1982) is an American singer and actress. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, she began her career in the music industry as a backing vocalist for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Leona Lewis, and Usher. In January 2016, she joined the Rolling Stones touring band.

Allen portrayed Dionne in the 2009 Broadway revival of Hair at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre and the 2010 West End revival at the Gielgud Theatre. In 2013, she was a semi-finalist on the fourth season of the American version of the singing competition TV series The Voice.

Stark Sands

Stark Bunker Sands (born September 30, 1978) is an American actor. He is known for his role as Tunny in the original Broadway cast of American Idiot, and originating the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway. He is a two-time Tony Award nominee. He is also known for the roles of Lance Sussman in Die, Mommie, Die! and Lt. Nathaniel Fick in Generation Kill. He starred as Dash in FOX's series Minority Report.

The Whitby

The Whitby is the name of the residential property at 325 West 45th Street in New York. The Whitby was designed by architect Emery Roth and built by Bing & Bing general contractors. It was originally commissioned as a hotel by The Gresham Realty Company in 1924 and opened for business on October 1, 1924. The building was converted into a residential cooperative in 1988 by Premiere Marketing Services. The 10-story dwelling between Eighth and Ninth Avenues has 215 apartments.

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