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BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Mark Hellinger Theatre

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BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Mark Hellinger Theatre

BroadwayWorld Book Club is officially off and running! Or should we say, reading!

The first BroadwayWorld Book Club selection is Jennifer Ashley Tepper's The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 1. Tepper has just released the first volume of the book for free on Kindle!

Join the Discussion:

Author Jennifer Tepper will be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A today at 12pm ET so be sure to tune in! You can post questions for Tepper on our Message Board HERE and on all BroadwayWorld social media!

Recap of Chapter Seven: The Mark Hellinger Theatre

If you would like to join the discussion, you can find a round-up of excerpts and fun facts from the first chapter of the book below:

BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Mark Hellinger Theatre

Did you know:

Jennifer Tepper discovered that you could go inside the Times Square Church on the BroadwayWorld message board?

BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The Mark Hellinger TheatreMy first time ever going to the Hellinger was in 2006. I was sitting t home one day, and I read on the BroadwayWorld message board that it was possible to step inside 1989. Well... almost. You could step into the Times Square Church, and actually look around at a Broadway Theater's lost former glory. I immediately got on a subway and rode up to Times Square.

I found out that you had to visit the church only during certain hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. I sat outside for a while and imagined what it would have been like to see Fade Out-Fade In or Rags, and then I went home. Of course, I returned later that week, and I was not disappointed. The Hellinger is palatial in such a way that no other Broadway theater can hold a candle to.

Did you know:

In an attempt to stop the musical Rags from closing, the company and audience marched down to the TKTS booth after the final matinee to drum up business?

Lonny Price, Actor/Director/Writer

I didn't read the reviews of Rags but I knew they were bad. And we had no advance.

I had some notion that we could turn it around, so I wanted someone to do a curtain speech. Teresa Stratas and I were talking about it and I said, "You have to give a curtain speech and tell people to tell their friends. Maybe if we sold some tickets, the producers wouldn't close it so quickly, they would look at it differently." She said "You do it."

... After our final matinee, I stepped forward and said to the audience, "We're closing tonight." They groaned. Then I said "But, perhaps..." They were all yelling, "We hate the critics" and I was going, "no, no, no, let's not do that. That's not important. But maybe we can turn this around. We're going to the TKTS booth to try to drum up some business. It would be really cool if you came with us."

We went out the stage door- in our costumes- and marched down to the ticket booth. And we sold out. We sold 700 tickets at the ticket booth in an hour because the entire audience came with us! We had posters and we had given them posters. I was sort of leading everyone. We stopped traffic, and it was actually mostly the audience that started going up to everybody and saying: We just saw this extraordinary show. Within an hour, we sold out that night. And we still closed.

Did you know:

The switch to modern lighting mechanisms for theaters began with the original production of My Fair Lady?

Jason Kantrowitz and Ken Billington, Lighting Designers

When we first started working in old Broadway theaters, you couldn't plug your blow dryer, or anything else, into the outlets in the dressing rooms. The theaters all ran on direct current.

Direct current is very efficient in operating things like motors and lighting boards. When the theaters were build, we lived in a direct current world...

You used to walk into a Broadway dressing room and see a sign that said "DIRECT CURRENT, DO NOT PLUG HAIR DRYERS IN."

...Everything started to change beginning with My Fair Lady. Abe Feder, the lighting designer, used autotransformer dimmers, which needed alternating current. It went into the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and in order for them to use those lighting boards, they had to convert the theater to alternating current. Then, My Fair Lady moved to the Broadhurst, so that theater got alternating current. It was such a hit, that it played houses all over the country. If you wanted My Fair Lady in your theater, you had to convert to alternating current.

Now join the discussion!

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