New Broadway Theater

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PatrickDC
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New Broadway Theater#1
Posted: 12/13/19 at 11:58pm

The chatter about B’juice, Music Man, and the Winter Garden got me thinking. The easiest solution to avoid this in the future is build more 500+ seat theaters. But is that realistic? The cost must be astronomical. How much would a new theater cost? Do the handful of major owners have that kind of capital? The risk seems worth it, according to the League and others Broadway is booming year after year and new attendance and revenue records are made every year (unless that’s hyperbole). And is there any space in the relatively small footprint that is Broadway? Would it be cheaper and more feasible to build outside Times Square and still have productions eligible for Tony’s? When if ever will we see more Broadway theaters built? 

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msmp
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New Broadway Theater#2
Posted: 12/14/19 at 12:06am

Isn't another problem that the City building code has protected/preserved so much of the theatre district that renovating a building would be almost impossible?

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New Broadway Theater#3
Posted: 12/14/19 at 12:43am

The Shuberts were in talks for the lot next to the Imperial, but apparently it would cost upwards of $150 millions so they didn't do it. It's a lot of money, but I agree. I mean, the Marquis was built because they demolished 3 mid-size theaters. We need more mid-size theaters. And that's the problem we're seeing today. 

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New Broadway Theater#4
Posted: 12/14/19 at 12:45am

It would certainly be nice for producers and audiences if more theatres were built, or turned into Broadway houses. More options for producers, and more shows for audiences.

It would especially be nice if Broadway had some more flexible spaces that can more easily accommodate different kinds of productions. We have the CITS, but that’s only 1 theatre, and even that isn’t actually all that flexible. It’s just differently shaped from the others. Hell, even if we were to get another traditional proscenium theatre, it would be great to get some more small, intimate houses, as those have been more consistently in demand recently.

As the OP pointed out, cost is probably the primary obstacle. Plus, while demand for theatres may be really high right now, it may not always stay that way. And unless my memory is skewed (which it might be), this level of demand for Broadway theatres is a fairly recent development. I feel like until just a few years ago, there used to be noticeably more empty theatres at any given time. So while demand has changed in recent years, I imagine the theatre owners would be apprehensive about pouring money into such an expensive project, when they risk the tides changing for the worse, and having that theatre sit empty.

As for theatre district building codes: the OP did mention the possibility of opening up Broadway houses further away from the theatre district. Obviously we have the Beaumont as the sole example right now, but there could be more, couldn’t there?
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MarkBearSF
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New Broadway Theater#5
Posted: 12/14/19 at 7:22am

Of course another consideration is that the owners are in the catbird seat in the current situation, with producers at their mercy to house their shows. Opening more theaters would be counter-productive for them  (primarily the Shuberts and Nederlanders.) ATG has demonstrated a willingness to spend lots of money to get a foothold on Broadway, and perhaps they are the ones most able to add another theater (as they did a few years ago with the Hudson).

As for building one (rather than rehabbing an unused theater) - I suspect the economics would only support a  erecting really big theater, as opposed to a mid-sized house.

Updated On: 12/14/19 at 07:22 AM
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New Broadway Theater#6
Posted: 12/14/19 at 7:51am

We really need another flexible Bway house like Circle in the Square. Perhaps a bit larger, to make it easier to turn a profit, but it would be booked constantly regardless. Circle often has a wait 3-5 shows deep.

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Posted: 12/14/19 at 8:08am
As has been mentioned, cost and space are the main factors. A solution to the “space” problem is to build a theater into a multipurpose skyscraper, as has been done in Tokyo. This of course would require a long timeline, and would be a huge gamble. Would people go to it? Is the Marquee “cursed” because it’s not a traditional theater on street level?
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New Broadway Theater#8
Posted: 12/14/19 at 8:53am
I would really like to see a set up like the national theatre with two theatres. And one of the stages being a thrust stage or flexible stage. I really wish that area next to the imperial wasn’t so astronomical to put up a theatre
SouthernCakes
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New Broadway Theater#9
Posted: 12/14/19 at 10:05am
I still think Stage 42 is such a great space. Add in like 2 more seats and it would qualify as a Broadway house.
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New Broadway Theater#10
Posted: 12/14/19 at 10:09am
^^Yes, the trick with that is then there’s so few seats it makes it hard for a show to turn a profit — once it’s a broadway house, it comes with broadway union contracts for stage hands etc.
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New Broadway Theater#11
Posted: 12/14/19 at 10:10am

It would be really great if, when they inevitably build a new tower next to the Imperial, they carve out space in, say, the 3rd-5th floors for a St. Ann's Warehouse-style/mini-Armory type theater.  It would have a small dedicated lobby opening directly to 45th or 46th with escalators going to a larger lobby upstairs.  

Or maybe on lower levels.  But a flexible space on Broadway would be nice.

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New Broadway Theater#12
Posted: 12/14/19 at 11:01am
It would be great if one of the theatre owners would get the Mark Hellinger Theatre back from the Times Square Church. It’s a great mid sized theatre.
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New Broadway Theater#13
Posted: 12/14/19 at 11:08am
Yeah! Imagine music man opening the newly refurbished Hellinger!

I mean we’ve seen the Sondheim in the past decade so it’s not out of the question for sure.

And true about Stage 42! But I’d imagine it’s possible.
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New Broadway Theater#14
Posted: 12/14/19 at 11:55am

SouthernCakes said: "And true about Stage 42! But I’d imagine it’s possible."

 

It's perfectly possible, it's just a question of whether they want to. And it seems that they don't. They deliberately built a house in the theatre district with exactly 499 seats, and I can't think why they'd do that unless they're deliberately avoiding making it count as a Broadway house. 

 

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New Broadway Theater#15
Posted: 12/14/19 at 2:15pm
Not having been in Manhattan for almost 4 years I have to ask. What happened to the old Times Square which was to have been used for a few different projects all of which died on the vine.
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New Broadway Theater#16
Posted: 12/14/19 at 2:37pm

We play out this discussion pretty often and nothing has actually changed. The theatre owners, save possibly ATG, have been satisfied with the number of theatres. It is worth reflecting on the fact that, while audiences may not care, there are many times that there are a lot of theatres lying fallow (something landlords DO care about) and relatively few times when there are actually shows not opening because of a traffic jam (and note that B'juice, which started this, could have another theatre if it wanted it; the issue is paying for the move). 

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New Broadway Theater#17
Posted: 12/14/19 at 2:57pm

The Music Man and Beetlejuice situation is unique because the majority of shows nowadays do not want to play a 1400+-seat venue, unless it has a high running cost or brand name. It's better to sell all your seats in a small (DEH, Come From Away) or mid-sized (Hamilton) theatre. MM/BJ happen to be both working with the Shuberts, which only has 4 Big Musical Houses (Shubert, Imperial, Winter Garden, Broadway...and Majestic).

Bob Wankel of the Shubert Org also has a valid point that it can be better to have too few theatres instead of too many. Broadway is booming right now, but it won't always be this healthy. The audience is still somewhat limited, especially for titles that appeal to similar demographics. It's a matter of quality control, too: when you have a bunch of houses to fill, that's when you end up with "filler" shows that shouldn't be on Bway. (Even this season has filler: "In Residence," Lightning Thief, and arguably ~5 others.) And the recoupment rate is still the same.

Theres's a big difference between a landlord wanting to own another theatre (to increase their market share) vs wanting to increase the overall number of Broadway houses.

From a commercial standpoint, the most "useful" new theatre would be modeled on the Schoenfeld or Music Box: 1,050 seats with one mez (no rear mez or balcony).....and 400 gender-neutral bathroom stalls and a massive lobby. It would be nice, artistically, to have a thrust/round/flex space, but shows have to be tailored to THAT venue. The majority of proscenium shows (especially plays and smaller musicals) would work equally well in any similarly-sized theatre with limited modifications. It all comes down to space availability, and a producer rarely "chooses" their theatre.

Ideally, when the Palace re-opens, they would take out 300-400 seats to bring its cap down to 1400. NOBODY needs 1743 seats nowadays.

Updated On: 12/14/19 at 02:57 PM
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New Broadway Theater#18
Posted: 12/14/19 at 3:28pm

There's also a question of, what happens in 7 years when Roundabout's 20-year lease on the Sondheim is up: Do they renew, or does someone like ATG or Jordan Roth swoop in with an irresistible offer?

Updated On: 12/14/19 at 03:28 PM
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New Broadway Theater#19
Posted: 12/14/19 at 7:42pm

As pointed out earlier in this thread the Mark Hellinger Theatre the legendary venue of My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar was sold by the Nederlanders to the Times Square Church because they couldn’t get a tenant in the 1980’s.

Why can’t the Mark Hellinger Church be both a church and theatre? I mean the church use it on Sunday morning, then it can convert back to a theatre the rest of the week? It’s not like the church is catholic, where they believe the actual building is sacred?

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New Broadway Theater#20
Posted: 12/14/19 at 10:51pm

It does seem odd that it's just sitting there in all its glory and not used. Maybe ATG could talk to them? It just seems a waste. A church doesn't need a theater like that. 

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New Broadway Theater#21
Posted: 12/14/19 at 11:04pm

The Hellinger is another question that gets asked often, and the answer never changes. It is not gonna happen. They are not interested in engaging. They don't care if you think it is odd; they think we are odd.

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New Broadway Theater#22
Posted: 12/14/19 at 11:46pm

Great input, thanks. 

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New Broadway Theater#23
Posted: 12/15/19 at 8:48am

After a few too many visits to the Spirit of Halloween in the fall, I still keep trying to find a way in my head to make the Liberty work again, in spite of the obvious drawbacks and hurdles to be cleared.

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New Broadway Theater#24
Posted: 12/15/19 at 12:40pm

I always think about the Liberty when I walk past the backend to get to the gym. It's still there, and would just need a total redo, but the actual structure is in place. It seems like someone would want to cash in on it instead of leaving it just sit empty. 

I live uptown, and there's a huge old movie palace called The Hamilton on 146th/Broadway and it was a Halloween Express, and it's just sitting there, and I wish I had the $$ to return it to its glory. It's uptown so def. not desirable but I'd love to see it restored. 

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New Broadway Theater#25
Posted: 12/15/19 at 1:20pm

" Not having been in Manhattan for almost 4 years I have to ask. What happened to the old Times Square which was to have been used for a few different projects all of which died on the vine."

 

From everything I have heard The Times Square can't go legit because when Garth Drabinsky took over the space occupied by the The Apollo and Lyric, he took up the block on 43rd St. and left no room for a loading dock to the Times Sq. Apparently the city won't allow a loading dock on 42nd St.