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Helen Hayes Theatre celebrates 100th Birthday

Publications Director Ken Bloom sends this news about the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York City 

THE LITTLE / HELEN HAYES THEATRE CELEBRATES 100TH BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY, MAY 24 

Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein will host a special Birthday party on Thursday, May 24th to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Little / Helen Hayes Theatre (240 West 44th Street), which opened on March 12, 1912 with John Galsworthy’s play The Pigeon. The theatre is currently home to the smash hit musical Rock of Ages.

Fierstein along with theatre owners Martin Markinson and Jeff Tick will be joined by Danny Aiello, Douglas Carter Beane, Kerry Butler, Kevin Chamberlin, Alison Fraser, Steve Guttenberg, Jonathan Hadary, Jessica Hecht, Jackie Hoffman, Rupert Holmes, Dana Ivey, Jay Johnson, Sarah Jones, Patricia Kalember, Roslyn Kind, Debra Monk, Mary Testa and Alfred Uhry and more.

This centennial celebration was conceived by Alan R. Markinson and the event is produced by Carla Weiss with co-producers Susan S. Myerberg, Alan R. Markinson, Sharon Fallon and Jacqueline Munoz. The house staff for the event is Matthew DiCarlo (production stage manager), Douglas Purcell (Head Carpenter), Joseph P. Beck (Head Electrician), Albert Toth (Head Propertyman), Robert Etter (Sound Engineer) and Hector Angulo (Engineer).

[The history that follows is courtesy of Playbill©]

This theatre opened as the Little Theatre in 1912. Later names included the Winthrop Ames, Anne Nichols’ Little, Times Hall and finally, in 1983, the Helen Hayes Theatre. In the winter of 2007 the Hayes, owned and operated by Martin Markinson and Donald Tick, was spruced up with a renovated auditorium, new seats, carpeting, painting and restoration of the relief ceiling.

Hits of the 1920s included O’Neill’s first Broadway play, the Pulitzer-winning Beyond the Horizon, which moved here from another theatre; The First Year, written by and starring Frank Craven; two Guy Bolton comedies, Polly Preferred and Chicken Feed; Wallace Ford and Nydia Westman in a huge hit, Pigs; Thomas Mitchell in Marc Connelly’s The Wisdom Tooth; 2 Girls Wanted; The Grant Street Follies; and Rachel Crothers’s witty Let Us Be Gay.

Highlights of the 1930s included Edward G. Robinson in Mr. Samuel; Elmer Rice’s The Left Bank; Honeymoon; One More Honeymoon; and Pre-Honeymoon by Anne Nichols, author of the legendary Abie’s Irish Rose. At this time the theatre’s name was changed to Anne Nichols’ Little Theatre.

From 1942–1959 this house ceased being a legitimate theatre and was known as the New York Times Hall and, later, the ABC Television Studio.

From 1964 to 1974 this theatre was leased to Westinghouse Broadcasting and hosted the Merv Griffin and David Frost TV shows.

In 1977 Albert Innaurato’s Off-Broadway hit, Gemini, moved here and ran for an amazing 1,788 performances, making it the fifth-longest running straight play in Broadway history. Another 1970s hit: The Runner Stumbles.

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