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Theater Stories: 1 of 4 Broadway Theaters Named After a Woman, Classic Revivals and More About The Vivian Beaumont Theater

Learn history, fun facts & more about the Vivan Beaumont Theater.

Theater Stories: 1 of 4 Broadway Theaters Named After a Woman, Classic Revivals and More About The Vivian Beaumont Theater

It is impossible to walk into a Broadway theatre, or simply just think of a Broadway theatre, without immediately connecting a memory to it. Every Broadway theatre is filled with a rich and colorful history, brimming over with stories of the stars who graced its staged, legends that were made within its walls, and the feelings we all have of looking back and thinking "I saw a Tony winning performance in that theater" or "I wish I'd seen that performance in that theater."

Whether a theater has a history that's a hundred years old or closer to forty, every Broadway theater tells a story, each one filled with fun facts you never knew!

With our new series, Theater Stories, we're bringing you tidbits you may have never heard, tales you never thought to ask about and more, giving you a better look into the history of Broadway theatres, as well as a leg-up on your next theater-trivia night.

Did you know the Vivian Beaumont Theater is the only Broadway theater not located in the Theater District?

The Vivian Beaumont Theater first opened in 1965. It was the first new Broadway theater to open since 1928, and unlike the other Broadway theaters, it is not located in the Theater District. It is located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex at 150 West 65th Street on the Upper West Side! The theater was named after Vivian Beaumont Allen, a well-known New York philanthropist, and was originally home to the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, which closed in 1973 after nine seasons. It was then home to Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, which performed in residence at the Beaumont from 1973 to 1977. The Beaumont struggled to find its footing until 1985 when Lincoln Center Theater was established (the theater's current management) and eventually became the U.S' largest not-for-profit theater.

Did you know the Vivian Beaumont Theater is one of only four Broadway theaters named after a woman?

Of the 41 Broadway theaters, there are only a four Broadway theaters that are named after women: The Vivian Beaumont Theater, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the Hayes Theater (named after Helen Hayes), and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (named in honor of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne). Vivian Beaumont Allen, known as Vivian Beaumont, was an American philanthropist, actress, and heiress. Her father was none other than J.E. Beaumont, the founder of May Company department stores, known now as Macy's Department Stores. Founder of the charity organization the Vivian Beaumont Society, Vivian Beaumont was a patron of the arts, and funded construction of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, which was completed after her death in 1962.

What is interesting about the architecture of the theater?

Theater Stories: 1 of 4 Broadway Theaters Named After a Woman, Classic Revivals and More About The Vivian Beaumont Theater The structure of the theater was designed by architect Eero Saarinen (best known for designing the Washington Dulles International Airport, the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri) and the interior and stage was designed by theatrical scenic, and lighting designer Jo Mielziner (best known for his work on Carousel, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, The King and I, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gypsy). When the theater was being built, the goal was to make the theater as flexible a space as possible, and originally, the stage was built to be transformable into either a thrust configuration or proscenium, though the mechanics of it didn't quite work, resulting in it presenting exclusively as a thrust stage.

What shows have played the Vivian Beaumont?

The Vivian Beaumont has been home to many well-known shows and stars! Shows that have played the theater include the 1987 revival of Anything Goes, Six Degrees of Separation 1990, the 1994 revival of Carousel, Parade (1998), The Light in the Piazza (2005), the 2008 revival of South Pacific, War Horse (2011), the 2015 revival of The King and I, the 2018 revival of My Fair Lady and more! Stars that have graced the stage of the Vivian Beaumont include Kelli O'Hara (who starred in three shows at the theater- The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific and The King and I), Laura Benanti, Harry Hadden-Paton, Norbert Leo Butz, Diana Rigg, Richard Kiley, Carolee Carmello, Andrea Martin, Tim Curry and others!

What else is located in the building?

On the roof of the Beaumont is the Claire Tow Theater, which opened in 2012! The theater is home to LCT3, and dedicated to producing the work of new artists. The theater seats 112, and stages three to four productions a year. The most recent shows to play the Claire Tow theater in 2020 and 2019 include the Headlands by Christopher Chen, Power Strip by Sylvia Khoury, In the Green by Grace McLean and Marys Seacole by Jackie Sibblies Drury. The lower level of the building houses the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. This theater seats 299 and houses Off-Broadway plays and musicals. The last shows to play the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in 2020 and 2019 include Greater Clements by Samuel D. Hunter, The Rolling Stone by Chris Urch, Nantucket Sleigh Ride by John Guare, and The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard.

What show is currently housed in the Vivian Beaumont Theater?

Flying Over Sunset was preparing to play its first preview performance on March 12, 2020, the day that Broadway was shut down due to the ongoing health crisis. The show is set in the 1950s and following writer Aldous Huxley; playwright, diplomat, and congresswoman, Clare Boothe Luce; and and film legend Cary Grant as they experiment with LSD. Flying Over Sunset stars Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, Erika Henningsen, Jeremy Kushnier, Emily Pynenburg, Michele Ragusa, Robert Sella, Laura Shoop, Atticus Ware, and Tony Yazbeck. Aria Braswell, William Colin, Danny Gardner, Kate Marilley, Tony Roach, and Michael Winther understudy various roles. The musical features book and direction by James Lapine, music by Tom Kitt, and lyrics by Michael Korie, and choreography by Michelle Dorrance.

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