Theatre Row to Unveil Renovation on June 17
Theatre Row, the five-theatre Off-Broadway complex at 410 West 42nd Street, has recently undergone an extensive six-month renovation as part of a larger re-imagining of Theatre Row's role in the non-profit theater community. The work has completely transformed the building's public spaces, greatly improving the theatergoing experience for patrons and for Theatre Row's companies-in-residence and rentals. At the same time, Theatre Row is launching new artistic initiatives both to better serve its companies-in-residence and to support smaller, emerging theatre companies and theatre artists.
The new Theatre Row will be unveiled with a dedication ceremony on Monday, June 17 from 5:00-7:00 PM, featuring performances from resident companies Epic Theatre Ensemble and Keen Company.
The physical renovations and the new artistic initiatives are key pieces of the strategic plan conceived eighteen months ago under the leadership of Wendy Rowden, President of Building for the Arts, the non-profit organization that programs and administers Theatre Row. The vision is for Theatre Row to be a leader in making Off-Broadway accessible to a broader, more diverse audience.
The building renovation was designed by Marta Sanders, partner of the award-winning firm, Architecture Outfit. The work was completed on budget and on time while the building remained open for business.
The new artistic initiatives are being led by Sarah Hughes, Theatre Row's newly-appointed Director of Artistic Programing. Details about the new programming will be shared at the June 17 event.
"This neighborhood has changed and grown dramatically since we first opened our doors in 1978. Our investment in Theatre Row helped catalyze the re-development of the far West Side, but our work is far from finished," commented Rowden. "We are excited to be moving into a new chapter in our relationship with the NYC non-profit arts community. We want Theatre Row not only to be a welcoming and dynamic destination for theatregoers; we want it to be an inclusive home for artists and a leader in featuring more under-represented voices in theater."
Physical improvements to Theatre Row include:
Greater street visibility and presence on 42nd Street with illuminated signs and a glass storefront that complement the historic façade as the only remaining 1900s tenement-era building on the block
Replacement of dated interior opaque metal doors, corrugated metal cladding, dark wood floors and neon signage with a new brighter finish palette, clear glass doors, and bold wayfinding graphics
New concessions and lounge-type seating in public areas
Refurbished lounge to serve as a bar for patrons, as well as a flexible meeting and working place for theatre companies and the community, and venue for cabarets and reading series
New sound and light lock between renovated lobby and ground-floor Theater 1
LED video displays in entry and throughout public areas displaying the programming in the five theatres
Theatre Row offers theatre and rehearsal studio rentals, office space, ticketing and box office, as well as tech support to actors, producers, dancers, and musicians. Theatre Row encourages its varied mix of nonprofit theatre companies to share ideas and resources as they work in its intimate spaces. Each year, Theatre Row serves 100 companies, 3,000 artists, and over 160,000 patrons.
Theatre Row serves as the home for a diverse group of companies-in-residence, including Epic Theatre Ensemble, The Chase Brock Experience, Mint Theatre Company, Keen Company, New York City Children's Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New Light Theater Project, Theatre Breaking Through Barriers, Pan-Asian Rep, and United Solo Theatre Festival.
After 20 years of operation, plans for a new Theatre Row were announced in 1998, as the block worked to keep pace with the rapid redevelopment of the Broadway theatre district and environs. In 2002, the present-day complex of five Off-Broadway theatres under one roof opened.
Theatre Row was developed to anchor the revival of the western end of 42nd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. In 1976, Fred Papert, a former advertising executive turned historical preservationist, set out to convert the block's peep shows, massage parlors and pornographic venues into a welcoming environment of theatres, restaurants and apartments. He established the 42nd Street Redevelopment Corporation, now Building for the Arts, which reclaimed the derelict block. "42nd Street Theatre Row," as it was originally named, opened its doors in 1978.
"We had several goals," explained Sanders of the renovation assignment. "We needed to make the overall facility more visible and engaged with 42nd Street; to make the experience of moving to the five theatres more intuitive and engaging for the patrons; and to make the interior more cohesive, welcoming and usable for artists and audiences."
The five theatres in the complex, previously named the Acorn, Beckett, Clurman, Kirk and Lion, are now numbered to eliminate audience confusion, and to establish Theatre Row as the unifying venue.