Restoration of Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park Unveiled
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; City Council Member Inez Dickens; Community Board 11 Chair Matthew Washington; Marcus Park Alliance President and Secretary/Treasurer Carla MacIntosh and Valerie Jo Bradley; City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel; and Mary Rodgers Guettel, daughter of the composer Richard Rodgers and executive board member of the Rodgers Family Foundation, to cut the ribbon on $7 million in improvements to the restored bandshell and amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park.
The ceremony also featured performances by Laura Osnes and Colin Donnell from the Roundabout Theater Company's production of Anything Goes, a performance by trombonist Craig Harris who played an original composition called "Harlem," and a performance by the P.S. 166 / Richard Rodgers School Fifth Grade Honors Choir.
"This is a great day to whistle a happy tune as the restored Richard Rodgers Amphitheater will revitalize this Historic Harlem park as a place to enjoy the outdoors and to celebrate the arts," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "We are extremely grateful to The Rodgers Family Foundation for its generous $1 million contribution to this project, provided through the City Parks Foundation, and to Borough President Stringer, State Senator Perkins, and Council Member Dickens for their funding allocations which will allow this amphitheater to come alive again with the sound of music."
"The renovation of this bandshell is enormously good news for the long-term health of this park and this community," said David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. "Increased programming in Marcus Garvey Park's bandshell over the last ten years has been one of the most important methods of reclaiming this park as a vital community resource. A renovated bandshell, thanks to the strong leadership of the City, thoughtful input from the community, and the generosity of The Rodgers Family Foundation, will become a vital community and educational resource for decades to come."
"It was just three years ago that I stood here with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe to announce plans for a new amphitheater," said Mary Rodgers Guettel, daughter of Richard Rodgers. "On behalf of The Rodgers Family Foundation, I am thrilled that this beautiful new space is now alive with the sound of music."
Funding for this $7 million project came from $4.9 million from mitigation funds provided to Parks by the MTA in connection with the Second Avenue Subway project; $600,000 allocated by Borough President Scott Stringer; $409,000 allocated by State Senator Bill Perkins when he was a Council Member, and $200,000 through his successor, Council Member Inez Dickens.
The Richard Rodgers Family Foundation, established by the composer Richard Rodgers and his wife, also donated $1 million.
The new amphitheater features a wider stage that is much closer to the audience, a large, multi-purpose area backstage with changing rooms and restrooms for the performers, an improved seating area with seatbacks built of a durable recycled plastic, and a fabric canopy to shield a large portion of the audience from the hot summer sun. The historic park setting coupled with the new amphitheater's large stage, multi-purpose backstage area, improved seating with sunshade, and upgraded lighting and sound hookups, all work together to create one of the premier outdoor performance spaces that New York City has to offer.
Thanks to the Richard Rodgers Family Foundation, a pool of $25,000 in grants are being made available to support community performances in the space. Another pool of approximately $25,000 will be available to support the commissioning of new work by City Parks Foundation for the space.
The new bandshell and amphitheater was designed by Cooper, Robertson and Partners and the contractor was Triton Structural Concrete, Inc. The City Parks Foundation Project Manager for the construction was Tom McGinty. The Parks Project Manager was Paul Schubert and the Resident Engineer was Heidy Grullon.
"The new Richard Rodgers Amphitheater with its enhanced sightlines and acoustics creates a more intimate and direct relationship between the performers and audience," said Scott Newman, partner of Cooper, Robertson & Partners and architect for the project. "Taken together with the Park's magnificent canopy of trees and many historic features, the new Richard Rodgers Amphitheater breathes new life into one of the most treasured outdoor performance spaces in New York City."
This summer, City Parks Foundation has a full schedule of programs at the Amphitheater including a performance of Shakespeare's Henry V from August 5-8, music performances with Ryan Leslie, Funkmaster Flex and others from August 9-11, dance performances with the Cecilia Marta Dance Company, Forces of Nature Dance Theater and others from August 12-13, and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 27. To view a video of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Marcus Garvey Park, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/nycparksdepartment#p/u/75/v_aQR0lXvIs
Composer Richard Rodgers (1902-79) enjoyed a spectacular career that spanned more than six decades. His hits ranged from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was the recipient of countless awards, including Pulitzers, Tonys, Oscars, Grammys and Emmys. He wrote more than 900 published songs and forty Broadway musicals, including The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, and South PacifiC. Rodgers' childhood home, at 3 West 120th Street, overlooked what was then called Mt. Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) and which the composer described as "one of the prettiest little parks in New York." In 1970 he provided funding for the original band shell, which has now been restored and renamed "The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater."