Brooks Atkinson Theater (originally Mansfield Theater)
after opening as the Mansfield Theater in 1926, this site was renamed the Brooks Atkinson Theater in 1960
Opened as the Mansfield Theater in 1926 and renamed the Brooks Atkinson Theater in 1960, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Marc Blitzstein, Emlyn Williams, Marshall W. Mason, William Ritman, Claudette Colbert, and John Lee Beatty, among others.
The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, by Tennessee Williams and starring Tallulah Bankhead and Tab Hunter, was a legendary flop that played here.
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LGBT-associated plays at the Mansfield Theater included The Ladder (1926-28) with Ross Alexander; the successful The Green Pastures (1930-31), with an all-Black cast and Hall Johnson as musical director, with the Hall Johnson Choir; Present Arms (1928) and Chee-Chee (1928), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart; The Cradle Will Rock (revival, 1947-48) by Marc Blitzstein, and with Will Geer; and Lend Me An Ear (1949-50), with scenic, costume and lighting design by Raoul Pene Du Bois (opened at the National Theater).
Brooks Atkinson Theater
It was named the Brooks Atkinson Theater in 1960. Its most successful LGBT-associated productions were The Deputy (1964), with Emlyn Williams and James Mitchell; Lenny (1971-72), directed by Tom O’Horgan (Outstanding Director Drama Desk Award), with future LGBT rights icon Harvey Milk as his assistant; Same Time, Next Year (1975-78), with scenic design by William Ritman; Talley’s Folly (1980) by Lanford Wilson (Pulitzer Prize for Drama), directed by Marshall W. Mason, with scenic design by John Lee Beatty (Best Scenic Design Tony Award); Noises Off (1983-85) with Victor Garber; and She Loves Me (revival, 1993-94), with Howard McGillin. A legendary flop was The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (revival, 1964) by Tennessee Williams, directed by Tony Richardson, with scenic and costume design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and with Tallulah Bankhead and Tab Hunter.
Other productions by LGBT creators and with LGBT performers included Night Life (1962) with Black singer Bobby Short; Man and Boy (1963) by Terence Rattigan; Josephine Baker and Her Company (1964), starring Josephine Baker; The Deputy (1964), with scenic design by Rouben Ter-Arutunian; The Glass Menagerie (revival, 1965) by Tennessee Williams, with actor George Grizzard; Jimmy Shine (1968-69), with costume design by Lewis Brown; Indians (1969-70), with scenic design by Oliver Smith; Paris is Out (1970), with costume design by Florence Klotz; Find Your Way Home (1974) and My Fat Friend (1974), with scenic design by William Ritman, the latter with actor George Rose; Tribute (1978), with scenic design by William Ritman, and costume design by Lowell Detweiler; Teibele and Her Demon (1979-80), with scenic and costume design by Desmond Heeley; Beyond Therapy (1982) by Christopher Durang, with actor David Hyde Pierce; Aren’t We All? (revival, 1985), with Claudette Colbert and George Rose; The Cemetery Club (1990), with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; Shadowlands (1990-91) with Nigel Hawthorne (Best Actor in a Play Tony Award); Redwood Curtain (1993) by Lanford Wilson, directed by Marshall W. Mason, with scenic design by John Lee Beatty; Play On! (1997), with André De Shields; The Iceman Cometh (1999), with scenic and costume design by Bob Crowley; and Uncle Vanya (revival, 2000), with Derek Jacobi and Roger Rees.
- Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp
- Year Built: 1925-26
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, Nov. 14, 2007.
Brooks Atkinson Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1987).
Internet Broadway Database.
“The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.
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