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Theater Stories: The Queens of SIX, WAITRESS Box Office Records and More About Brooks Atkinson Theatre

Every Broadway theater tells a story, each one filled with fun facts you never knew!

Theater Stories: The Queens of SIX, WAITRESS Box Office Records and More About Brooks Atkinson Theatre

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 Brooks Atkinson Theatre Built?

The Brooks Atkinson Theatre, originally called the Mansfield Theatre, was built in 1926 and designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, who also designed the Ambassador Theatre, the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, the Broadhurst Theatre and many more! The theatre was named for famed actor Richard Mansfield, best known for his performances in Gilbert and Sullivan operas and Shakespeare plays. The theatre fell into disuse from 1933 to 1945, before it was bought by producer Michael Myerberg, who leased it to CBS for television productions including 'What's My Line?' and 'I've Got a Secret'. In 1960, the theatre was renamed after former New York Times theater critic, Brooks Atkinson, and began presenting live theater once again.

Who is Brooks Atkinson?

Brooks Atkinson wrote for The New York Times from 1922 to 1960. After graduating from Harvard in 1917 he worked at the Springfield Daily News and the Boston Evening Transcript, where he was an assistant to the drama critic. He became the editor of the New York Times Book Review in 1922, and in 1925 became the drama critic. Atkinson soon gained the power to make or break a show with his reviews. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, The New York Times reassigned Atkinson as a war correspondent in China, where he covered the second Sino-Japanese war. After the end of the war, he was sent to Moscow as a press correspondent, where his work earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence in 1947. After returning from the Soviet Union, he was reassigned to the drama desk, where he stayed until his retirement in 1960, the same year he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

What famous shows and stars have graced the stage of the Brooks Atkinson Theater?

Shows that inhabited the theatre include: Noises Off (1983) starring Dorothy Loudon, Victor Garber, Brian Murray, Jim Piddock, Deborah Rush, Douglas Seale, and Amy Wright; The Rainmaker (1999 revival) starring Woody Harrelson and Jayne Atkinson; The Odd Couple (2005 revival) starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick; Grease (2007 revival) starring Max Crumm and Laura Osnes; Rock of Ages (2009) starring Constantine Maroulis, Amy Spanger, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Molina and more; Peter and the Starcatcher (2012) starring Christian Borle, Celia Keenan-Bolger and more; Spring Awakening (2015 revival) starring Ali Stroker, Marlee Matlin, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, Alex Boniello, Austin P. McKenzie, Austin P. McKenzie, Joshua Castille and more; Waitress (2016) starring Jessie Mueller, Drew Gehling, Nick Cordero, Keala Settle, Kimiko Glenn, Dakin Matthews, Christopher Fitzgerald, Eric Anderson and more, among others!

What show broke the box office record at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre?

The show to break the Brooks Atkinson box office record is Waitress! During previews for Waitress, the production set a new box office record for a single performance at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, taking in $145,532. The show began previews on March 25, 2016 and officially opened on April 24, 2016. Waitress features music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Chase Brock. The cast featured Jessie Mueller as Jenna, Drew Gehling as Jim, Joe Tippett as Earl, Jeanna de Waal as Dawn, Keala Settle as Becky, Dakin Matthews as Joe, Jeremy Morse as Ogie, and Eric Anderson as Cal. The show garnered Tony Award nominations for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Waitress closed on January 5, 2020, after playing 33 previews and 1,544 regular performances.

What show is currently in the Brooks Atkinson Theatre?

The show that is currently inhabiting the theatre is Six! Six, which originally opened in London, began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on February 13, 2020. Six opened on March 12, 2020, the last day before Broadway officially shut down due to the ongoing health crisis. The musical features Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr. SIX is co-directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, and features choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille.

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