Learn about the many shows and stars to have graced the stage of Broadway's Hayes Theater!

By: Apr. 04, 2021

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.

When was the Hayes Theater Built?

Theater Stories: ROCK OF AGES, LOBBY HERO, WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME & More About The Hayes Theater The Hayes Theater opened as The Little Theatre in 1912, with John Galsworthy's play The Pigeon. The building was sold to The New York Times in 1931, and converted into a conference hall called 'New York Times Hall'. The theater operated as an ABC Television studio from 1957 to 1963, and was used for the Merv Griffin Show during the 1960s. The theatre was named for Helen Hayes in 1983 when the actress's existing namesake theatre on West 46th Street was demolished. In 2015, it was announced that the theater had been sold to Second Stage Theater company - the first Second Stage production at the Hayes Theater was Lobby Hero in 2018. The Hayes is currently the smallest theater on Broadway with 597 seats!

What shows and stars have graced the Hayes Theater stage?

Shows to have been performed at the theater include Torch Song Trilogy (1982) starring Harvey Fierstein, Paul Joynt, Diane Tarleton and more; Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Dress Casual (1989); Prelude to a Kiss (1990) starring Timothy Hutton, Barnard Hughes, Debra Monk and more; Epic Proportions (1999) starring Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Tudyk, Jeremy Davidson, and Richard B. Shull; Dirty Blonde (2000) starring Claudia Shear, Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman; Say Goodnight, Gracie (2002) starring Frank Gorshin; Golda's Balcony (2003) starring Tovah Feldshuh; Xanadu (2007) starring Kerry Butler, Cheyenne Jackson, Tony Roberts, Mary Testa, Jackie Hoffman, Anika Larsen and more; The 39 Steps (2009, transfer from the Cort Theatre) starring Charles Edwards, Jennifer Ferrin and more; Rock of Ages (2011, transfer from the Brooks Atkinson Theatre) starring Constantine Maroulis, Amy Spanger, James Carpinello, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Molina and more; Dames at Sea (2015) starring Lesli Margherita, John Bolton, Mara Davi and more.

(Dames at Sea, 2015)

The Humans (2016) starring Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed, Cassie Beck, and Sarah Steele; Lobby Hero (2018) starring Michael Cera, Bel Powley, Chris Evans, and Brian Tyree Henry;

(Lobby Hero, 2018)

Straight Wihite Men (2018) starring Josh Charles, Armie Hammer, Paul Schneider, Kate Bornstein, Ty Defoe, and Stephen Payne; Torch Song (2018) starring Michael Urie, Mercedes Ruehl, Ward Horton, Jack DiFalco, Michael Hsu Rose, and Roxanna Hope Radja;

(Torch Song 2018)

What the Constitution Means to Me (2019) starring Heidi Schreck;

What the Constitution Means to Me (2019)

Linda Vista (2019) starring Ian Barford, Sally Murphy, Chantal Thuy, Jim True-Frost, Cora Vander Broek, Troy West, and Caroline Neff; Grand Horizons (2020) starring Jane Alexander, James Cromwell, Priscilla Lopez, Ben McKenzie, Maulik Pancholy, Ashley Park, and Michael Urie, plus many more!

What show most recently opened at the Hayes Theater?

Grand Horizons was the show to most recently have an official opening at the Hayes Theater! Grand Horizons began previews on December 20th, 2020 and officially opened on January 23, 2020 for a limited 10-week engagement, closing on March 1 2020. Written by Bess Wohl and directed by Leigh Silverman, Grand Horizons starred Jane Alexander (Nancy), James Cromwell (Bill), Priscilla Lopez (Carla), Ben McKenzie (Ben), Maulik Pancholy (Tommy), Ashley Park (Jess), and Michael Urie (Brian). Grand Horizons is currently nominated for Tony Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Jane Alexander, and Best Play.

What show achieved a box office record for the theater?

Rock of Ages achieved the box office record for the Helen Hayes Theatre! The production grossed $744,667 over nine performances for the week ending December 30, 2012. Rock of Ages opened in 2009 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre before transferring to the Helen Hayes Theatre in 2011. The musical features music by Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison, Europe, and more. The original Broadway cast of Rock of Ages featured Constantine Maroulis, Amy Spanger, Mitchell Jarvis, James Carpinello, Adam Dannheisser, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Molina, Michele Mais, Paul Schoeffler, Jeremy Woodard, Andre Ward, Savannah Wise, Katherine Tokarz, and Angel Reed. The production was nominated for five Tony awards: Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Constantine Maroulis, Best Direction of a Musical for Kristin Hanggi, Best Costume Design of a Musical for Gregory Gale, and Best Sound Design of a Musical for Peter Hylenski.

What show was set to open in the theater next?

The Second Stage Theater production of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out was set to begin previews April 2, 2020 and officially open on April 23, 2020. The show was unable to open due to the Broadway shutdown. Directed by Scott Ellis, Take Me Out was set to feature Patrick J. Adams, Julian Cihi, Hiram Delgado, Brandon J. Dirden, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Carl Lundstedt, Ken Marks, Michael Oberholtzer, Eduardo Ramos, Tyler Lansing Weaks, and Jesse Williams.

In Take Me Out, playwright Richard Greenberg celebrates the personal and professional intricacies of America's favorite pastime. When Darren Lemming (Jesse Williams), the star center fielder for the Empires, comes out of the closet, the reception off the field reveals a barrage of long-held unspoken prejudices. Facing some hostile teammates and fraught friendships, Darren is forced to contend with the challenges of being a gay person of color within the confines of a classic American institution. As the Empires struggle to rally toward a championship season, the players and their fans begin to question tradition, their loyalties, and the price of victory.

Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson