Billy Porter Will Reopen East Hampton's Guild Hall

Concert on July 12 Marks the Completion of Guild Hall's Renovation

By: May. 29, 2024
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Guild Hall has announced the completion of its theater renovation, with performing arts programming commencing in July. Guild Hall’s facility-wide capital improvements project and campaign was first announced in 2021 and ushered in a period of 21st-century revitalization for the legendary multi-arts center. The theater’s completion marks the project's final phase; the institution’s galleries, education space, art handling, gardens, and offices were completed in July 2023.

To celebrate the theater's reopening, Guild Hall will host “An Evening with Billy Porter,” a benefit concert on Friday, July 12, at 8 PM. Guests are encouraged to dress in creative attire, walk the red carpet, and celebrate the reopening of the newly renovated theater with the Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter, widely known for his tour-de-force performance in Broadway’s Kinky Boots and his portrayal of Pray Tell in the FX series, Pose.

The renovation of Guild Hall’s facility has been a labor of love involving hundreds of individuals, from the building team to the donors. In honor of a landmark gift received from the Morgan family, which has enabled the complete transformation of the theater, Guild Hall announces the new Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan Theater. The beautiful performance space now operates at the highest level of technology and comfort, providing exceptional experiences for artists and audiences. 

“We’ve had meaningful and inspiring experiences in this theater, and we hope this gift will ensure it remains a special place for future generations,” shared Guild Hall Trustee Hilarie Morgan and husband Mitchell Morgan.  

The Morgans, who have a home in Sagaponack, are deeply committed to arts and education. Hilarie Morgan, a former psychologist who serves on the Boards of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Norton Museum of Art, joined the Guild Hall Board of Trustees in 2021. Her husband, Mitchell Morgan, is the Founder and Chairman of Morgan Properties, a national leader in the investment and management of multifamily properties. Mitchell chairs Temple University’s Board of Trustees and was recently elected to the Guggenheim Museum’s Board. 

Previously named as a memorial tribute to John Drew (1853-1927), a well-known 19th—and early 20th-century stage actor who spent summers in East Hampton, Guild Hall will acknowledge this tribute with signage and proudly name the senior staff position in the theater the John Drew Director of Performing Arts in honor of this history. 

Overseen by award-winning Peter Pennoyer Architects, a leader in renovation and preservation of historic architecture, in consultation with globally recognized theater design experts Apeiro Design, the upgraded features bring the theater’s functionality up to contemporary performance needs while maintaining the key elements of its historic design, including the restoration of the stage’s scalloped proscenium frame, which was part of the theater’s original design by Aymar Embury II.

The theater’s much-beloved circus-tent ceiling motif and iconic balloon chandelier remain, and non-original elements, including moldings and wallcoverings, have been updated to more closely reflect the theater’s elegant 1930s design. The flow of the theater has also been restored by removing non-original doors at the entrance to the theater corridor. In a nod to Embury’s inaugural architecture, columns have been restored in the lobby, recreating the graceful procession from the entrance arcade of the building through the house of the theater. A new continental seating arrangement captures prime orchestra seats, adds greater row-to-row depth, offers broader and more comfortable seating, and enhances sightlines through an increased floor rake. A new flexible social space at the rear of the orchestra has replaced the boxes. Restored plasterwork and beautifully appointed finishes have significantly brightened the room. 

Ben Krupinski Builder, the highly regarded Hamptons contractor, was the construction company for this comprehensive project. Dozens of local and regional subcontractors contributed specialties to this near-total infrastructure upgrade of the 24,000-square-foot building and 46,000-square-foot property, which serves as the gateway to East Hampton Village.

The theater renovation plan also included new technical systems, which were placed throughout the theater, as well as a relocated control booth in the balcony. The project theater consultant, Apeiro Design, has an extensive portfolio, and they have incorporated advanced audio-visual technologies, lighting, and acoustics to keep up with the theater's demands of all-embracing performance types. A dynamic audio lift system makes the room acoustically excellent for every art form, from symphonies to cinema. A remote-controlled camera system for live streaming and recording and new lighting positions in the balcony have also been added.

The full season includes a wide variety of performances, films, talks, and more, with a diverse lineup of programs in the theater that will make full use of the extensive technical improvements. In addition to the reopening event with Billy Porter, Guild Hall will present concerts with Rufus Wainwright, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, G.E. Smith’s Portraits featuring Yola, Valerie June, and Lola Kirke, Robert Glasper, Taylor Mac, and others. HamptonsFilm SummerDocs will return, as will the beloved Stirring the Pot culinary conversation series with Florence Fabricant featuring Daniel Humm, Giada De Laurentiis, Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald of Levain Bakery, and Marcus Samuelsson. Guild Hall will launch a new series, Academy Icons, a mini-retrospective of films by documentary director and producer Susan Lacy, followed by conversations with special guests. New York City Ballet, a favorite for years, will host their unique “behind the curtain” performance, and Hamptons Dance Project returns to Fireplace Lodge. Comedians Zainab Johnson, Dulcé Sloan, and humorist David Sedaris will bring the funny. All of this and more can be found at

Guild Hall is the cultural heart of the East End: a museum, performing arts, and education center, founded in 1931. We invite everyone to experience the endless possibilities of the arts: to open minds to what art can be; inspire creativity and conversation; and have fun.

Guild Hall has served four generations and introduced audiences to the most storied artists and performers of our time. As the institution approaches its centennial, it is nearing the completion of a state-of-the-art renovation to match the caliber of its artistry for twenty-first-century audiences. The facility-wide Capital Improvements Project & Campaign includes top-of-the-line physical and technological enhancements to better deliver on its mission as an artist-driven, interdisciplinary institution.

For more information about Guild Hall, please visit


To post a comment, you must register and login.