Al Hirschfeld Theater (originally Martin Beck Theater)
after opening as the Martin Beck Theater in 1924, this site was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater in 2005
Opened as the Martin Beck Theater in 1924, this venue has staged many productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including multiple big hits, such as The Voice of the Turtle, Bye Bye Birdie, Grand Hotel, and Guys and Dolls. “First Lady of the Theater” Katharine Cornell also appeared in seven plays here.
The venue was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater in 2005.
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When this venue was known as the Martin Beck Theater, there were many LGBT-associated productions that were big hits:
- On the Town (1945-46, opened at the Adelphi Theater), with music by Leonard Bernstein, choreography by Jerome Robbins, production design by Oliver Smith, and with actor Cris Alexander
- The Voice of the Turtle (1947; opened at the Morosco Theater) by John Van Druten
- Bye Bye Birdie (1960) by Michael Stewart (Best Musical Tony Award), with costume design by Miles White, and with actors Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly
- Milk and Honey (1961-63) by Don Appell, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and costume design by Miles White
- Oliver (1965), with book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart (Best Composer and Lyricist Tony Award)
- Man of La Mancha (1965-68), with choreography by Jack Cole
- Into the Woods (1987-89), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Best Original Score Tony Award), and scenic design by Tony Straiges
- Grand Hotel (1989-92), directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune (Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography Tony Awards), and with actor Michael Jeter (Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Award)
- Guys and Dolls (revival, 1992-95), with costume design by William Ivey Long, and with actor Nathan Lane
- Kiss Me, Kate (revival, 1999-2001), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter (Best Revival of a Musical Tony Award), and costume design by Martin Pakledinaz (Best Costume Design Tony Award)
Other productions by LGBT creators and with LGBT performers at the Martin Beck included:
- A la Carte (1927) by George Kelly
- Porgy (revival, 1929), with actors Georgette Harvey and Edna Thomas
- Dynamo (1929), with actor Claudette Colbert
- The Camel Through the Needle’s Eye (1929), with actor George Freedley
- Reunion in Vienna (1931-32), with actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne
- The Lake (1933-34), with actor Katharine Hepburn
- Romeo and Juliet (revival, 1934-35 and 1935-36), staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actors Katharine Cornell, Maurice Evans, Ralph Richardson, and Tyrone Power
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street (revival, 1935), staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actor Katharine Cornell
- Flowers of the Forest (1935) by John Van Druten, and with actor Katharine Cornell
- Saint Joan (revival, 1936), staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actors Katharine Cornell, Maurice Evans, and Tyrone Power
- Cabin in the Sky (1940-41), with actor Ethel Waters
- The Pirate (1942-43), with costume design by Miles White, and with actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne
- The Corn Is Green (1943) by Emlyn Williams
- A Connecticut Yankee (1943-44), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart
- Foolish Notion (1945), with actor Tallulah Bankhead
- St. Louis Woman (1946) by Arna Bontemps and Countee Cullen, and with choreography by Charles Walters
- Antony and Cleopatra (revival, 1947-48), staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actors Katharine Cornell (Best Actress in a Play Tony Award) and Charles Nolte
- That Lady (1949-50), staged by Guthrie McClintic, and with actor Katharine Cornell
- Ring Round the Moon (1950-51), with actor Denholm Elliott
- The Rose Tattoo (1951; Best Play Tony Award) by Tennessee Williams, and with actor Sal Mineo
- The Climate of Eden (1952), with actor Ray Stricklyn
- The Grass Harp (1952) by Truman Capote, with scenic and costume design by Cecil Beaton
- Major Barbara (revival, 1956), with actor Charles Laughton
- Candide (1956-57), with music by Leonard Bernstein, scenic design by Oliver Smith, and costume design by Irene Sharaff
- Orpheus Descending (1957) by Tennessee Williams
- Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? (1958), with scenic design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian
- Say, Darling (1958-59, opened at the ANTA Playhouse), with scenic design by Oliver Smith
- Sweet Bird of Youth (1959-60) by Tennessee Williams
- The Happiest Girl in the World (1961), with actor Cyril Ritchard
- Strange Interlude (1963; opened at the Hudson Theater) was the first revival of Eugene O’Neill’s 1928 play, which had included an early closeted gay male character
- The Ballad of the Sad Café (1963-64) by Edward Albee, based on a novella by Carson McCullers
- A Delicate Balance (1966-67; Pulitzer Prize for Drama) by Edward Albee, with scenic design by William Ritman
- Hallelujah, Baby! (1967-68) by Arthur Laurents (Best Musical Tony Award), with costume design by Irene Sharaff
- All Over (1971) by Edward Albee, with scenic and costume design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian
- Habeas Corpus (1975-76) by Alan Bennett
- Happy End (1977), adapted by Michael Feingold
- The Little Foxes (revival, 1981), with costume design by Florence Klotz
- Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), with actor Sandy Dennis
- The Rink (1984) by Terrence McNally, directed by A.J. Antoon, and with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
- Moon Over Buffalo (1995-96), with costume design by Bob Mackie
- Annie (revival, 1997), with actor Nell Carter
Entry by Jay Shockley, project director (June 2019, with multiple additions).
NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.
- Architect or Builder: G. Albert Lansburgh
- Year Built: 1923-24
“The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.
Adam Hetrick, “The Work of Broadway’s Gay and Lesbian Artistic Community Goes on Display Nov. 14 When the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery Presents ‘StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design’,” Playbill, November 14, 2007.
Internet Broadway Database.
Martin Beck Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).
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