Neil Simon Theater


The Neil Simon Theatre, formerly the Alvin Theatre, is a Broadway Theatre built in 1927 and located at 250 West 52nd Street in midtown-Manhattan. As of 2009, the record for its longest running show is held by the musical Hairspray, which opened August 15, 2002 and ran for 2,642 performances before closing on January 4, 2009. A revival production of Ragtime began on October 23, 2009, but due to poor ticket sales, Ragtime closed on January 10, 2010 after 28 previews and 65 regular performances. On October 19, 2010, RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles opened at the Neil Simon Theatre to run through January 15, 2011 when it will move to the Brooks Atkinson Theater. The new musical Catch Me If You Can will begin performances at the Neil Simon Theater in spring 2011.

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Neil Simon Theater was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the developer, real estate mogul Alexander Pincus originally named it the "Alvin Theatre" as an amalgam of the names of producers "AL" ex Aarons and "VIN" ton Freedley. With its address originally listed as 244-54 West 42nd Street, it opened on November 22, 1927 with George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire. In 1930, the legendary Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut in Girl Crazy; in 1934, she appeared again in Cole Porter's Anything Goes and again in 1936 in Porter's Red, Hot and Blue. In 1935, the Gershwins' classic American folk opera Porgy and Bess had its world premiere at the venue. Due to the Great Depression, Aarons and Freedley lost control of their venue in 1932. For a period of time it was used as a radio studio by CBS. In 1960, Lucille Ball appeared in her only Broadway show, the musical Wildcat. In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her Neil Simon Theater Broadway debut in Flora the Red Menace.
In 1977, the building was purchased by the Nederlander Organization, and was renamed in honor of American playwright Neil Simon on June 29, 1983 with the opening of his play Brighton Beach Memoirs. In 1985, its sequel Biloxi Blues also played at the theatre.
The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1985. Historical records show that its original seating capacity was 1,362; in 2002, it was expanded from 1328 to a potential 1467 (depending on usage of the facility, as the presence of an orchestra pit displaces 26 seats) after the May 27, 2002 closing of Elaine Stritch at Liberty. The musical Hairspray subsequently opened on August 15, 2002 at Neil Simon Theater. Robin Williams was set to perform 5 shows from his latest comedy tour, Weapons Of Self-Destruction at this theatre in early October 2009, but this was scrapped in favor of the revival of Ragtime, which opened on November 15, 2009, but due to low advanced ticket sales, Ragtime closed on January 10, 2010 after 28 previews and 65 regular performances.

Famous past productions:
1927: Funny Face
1930: Girl Crazy
1932: Mourning Becomes Electra
1934: Anything Goes
1935: Porgy and Bess
1936: Red, Hot and Blue
1938: The Boys from Syracuse
1940: There Shall Be No Night
1941: Lady in the Dark
1943: Something for the Boys
1946: Joan of Lorraine
1947: Life with Father
1948: Mister Roberts
1951: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
1952: Two's Company
1954: House of Flowers
1955: No Time for Sergeants
1958: Bells Are Ringing
1959: Once Upon a Mattress
1960: West Side Story; Wildcat
1961: Irma La Douce
1962: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
1965: Flora, The Red Menace
1966: Dinner At Eight (Revival)
1967: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Sherry!
1968: The Great White Hope
1970: Company
1975: Shenandoah
1977: Annie
1981: Merrily We Roll Along
1982: Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
1983: Brighton Beach Memoirs
1985: Biloxi Blues
1990: Jackie Mason: Brand New
1992: Jake's Women
1993: Cyrano: The Musical
1996: The King and I (Revival)
1999: The Scarlet Pimpernel
2001: The Music Man
2002: Elaine Stritch at Liberty
2002: Hairspray (Ran for 2,642 performances)
2009: Ragtime (Revival - Ran for 65 performances)
2010: RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles
2011: Catch Me If You Can