Non-Profit Second Stage Theatre Acquires Helen Hayes Theatre

Second Stage will continue to lease and operate their original theaters on the city's Upper West Side and in Midtown Manhattan. They have also entered into the quiet phase of a capital campaign to acquire, renovate, preserve, and operate the new facility and to start an endowment for the organization. Programming in the Helen Hayes will begin in 2010. Until that time, the current owners, Martin Markinson and the late Donald Tick, will continue to operate the theater.

Since its founding nearly 30 years ago, Second Stage has distinguished itself as a champion and leading producer of American theater, committed to developing and staging new work and nurturing up-and- coming playwrights, directors, designers, and actors. It is known for its consistent focus on contemporary American playwrights and for mounting and initiating innovative productions such as Edward Albee's Peter & Jerry, Jitney by August Wilson, Crumbs from the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe, Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West, and Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl.

Second Stage has also discovered and nurtured new talent such as Cynthia Nixon, Julie White, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Ryan, Tim Daly, Laurence Fishburne, and Chandra Wilson. In the past six years alone, a number of Second Stage's notable productions, such as Metamorphoses, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Little Dog Laughed, have gone on to extended Broadway runs. Second Stage is also distinguished for its commitment to mounting 'second stagings' of recent works that merit further exposure to audiences.

"Acquiring the Helen Hayes is the natural, yet amazing next step for Second Stage in bringing our mission of presenting innovative American theater to the heart of Broadway," said Carole Rothman, Second Stage Theatre's founding director. "With this acquisition, we have both the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to help ensure that contemporary American theater remains a vibrant part of Broadway and, in turn, benefits from the power of Broadway to draw and excite new audiences across the nation."

"Over its lifetime, Second Stage has built a community of artists, and has nurtured literally thousands of theater people," said Second Stage board co-chair Tony Kiser. "Second Stage has a proven record of success, both artistically and financially, an enviable position for a New York non-profit organization." Second Stage board co-chair Stephen Sherrill commented, "Building on thirty years of fiscal responsibility and support, the Theatre is on solid financial footing, allowing us to take this important investment in our artistic development. It's not often a Broadway house becomes available, but because we have achieved and maintained artist and audience loyalty and financial vitality, we are in a position to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"When I joined Second Stage two years ago, one of my main objectives was to find the company a permanent home," said Ellen Richard, Second Stage's executive director. "Opening our third home in a building which we will own provides a firm foundation for long-term planning and financial stability, which is especially important to the health of a not-for-profit theater company."

"This is the perfect theater for Second Stage," said Martin Markinson, Helen Hayes Theatre owner since 1977. "The size is well-suited for the presentation of new and innovative work, as we have had the good fortune to realize over the years, and it resonates with the history of the theater as an incubator for innovative works. I think it's important that original, American drama has a strong presence on Broadway, so I'm thrilled that Second Stage will establish its permanent home at the Helen Hayes Theatre."

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