overview

Opened as the Alvin Theater in 1927 and renamed the Neil Simon Theater in 1983, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Cole Porter, Jerome Robbins, Raoul Pene Du Bois, Stephen Sondheim, Michael Bennett, Truman Capote, Marjorie Main, Mary Martin, and Noel Coward, among others.

The play Lady in the Dark (1941), with costume design by Irene Sharaff, featured actor Danny Kaye as a stereotypical gay character.

Header Photo
Credit: Sarah Sargent/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2019.

History

Alvin Theater
This venue opened as the Alvin Theater in 1927.

The biggest hits with LGBT associations at the Alvin were:

  • Anything Goes (1934), with lyrics and music by Cole Porter
  • Lady in the Dark (1941), with costume design by Irene Sharaff and with actor Danny Kaye as a stereotypical gay character
  • Something for the Boys (1943-44), with lyrics and music by Cole Porter, and choreography by Jack Cole
  • No Time for Sergeants (1955), with Roddy McDowall
  • Bells Are Ringing (1958-59), with choreography by Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, and scenic and costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois, with Judy Holliday (Best Actress Tony Award; opened at the Shubert Theater)
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962-64; Best Musical Tony Award), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and with choreography by Jack Cole
  • Company (1970) (Best Musical, Book of a Musical, Original Score, and Lyrics Tony Awards) by George Furth, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and musical staging by Michael Bennett with Bob Avian, associate choreographer

 

Other productions with LGBT creators at the Alvin were:

  • Spring is Here (1929), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart
  • Heads Up (1929), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart
  • Red, Hot and Blue! (1936), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter
  • I’d Rather Be Right (1937), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and costume design by Irene Sharaff
  • The Boys from Syracuse (1938), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and costume design by Irene Sharaff
  • Very Warm for May (1939-40), with scenic and costume design by Vincente Minnelli
  • The Firebrand of Florence (1945), with costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois
  • Billion Dollar Baby (1945-46), with choreography by Jerome Robbins and scenic design by Oliver Smith, with actor James Mitchell
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), with costume design by Irene Sharaff
  • Two’s Company (1952-53), with costume design by Miles White
  • House of Flowers (1954) by Truman Capote, with scenic and costume design by Oliver Messel (Best Scenic Design Tony Award)
  • Oh Captain! (1958), with costume design by Miles White
  • Jerome Robbins’ Ballets: U.S.A. (1958), choreographed by Jerome Robbins, with costume design by Irene Sharaff, and with dancer Tommy Abbott
  • West Side Story (return engagement, 1960) by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, choreography by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro, scenic design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Irene Sharaff, and with actor Larry Kert (opened at the Winter Garden Theater)
  • High Spirits (1964-65) directed by Noel Coward, with Beatrice Lillie
  • Flora, the Red Menace (1965), with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
  • It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! (1966), with costume design by Florence Klotz, and with actor Jack Cassidy
  • Sherry! (1967), with costume design by Robert Mackintosh
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967-68), with scenic and costume design by Desmond Heeley (Best Scenic Design and Costume Design Tony Awards)
  • Molly (1973), choreographed by Grover Dale
  • Merrily We Roll Along (1981), by George Furth, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

 

LGBT performers at the Alvin included:

 

Neil Simon Theater
In 1983, the venue was renamed the Neil Simon Theater.

Shows with LGBT creators and performers at the Neil Simon included:

 

Entry by Jay Shockley, project director (June 2019, with multiple additions).

NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp
  • Year Built: 1927

Sources

  1. 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.

  2. Internet Broadway Database.

  3. “The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.

  4. Alvin Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1985).

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