Al Hirschfeld Theatre History Assignment

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre opened in 1924, as the Martin Beck Theatre, at 302 W. 45th Street. Designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh, the large, grandiose venue premiered Bye Bye, Birdie and presented revivals of Kiss Me, Kate and Hair. The Martin Beck was renamed for celebrity caricaturist Al Hirschfeld in 2003.

Read Full "At This Theatre"
  • Built: 1924
  • Number of Seats: 1437
  • Longest Running Show: Man of La Mancha
  • Performances: 1,076
  • Stage Door: To your left as you exit the theatre. It is behind a black metal fence, and is labeled "Stage Entrance".
  • Bathrooms:

    Ladies: Basement level, down one flight of stairs from the orchestra. 15 stalls. Unisex, wheelchair accessible restroom on orchestra level.

    Men: Mezzanine level, to the left of the main staircase. 10 stalls. Unisex, wheelchair accessible restroom on orchestra level.

  • Concessions: Orchestra and mezzanine levels.
  • Handicap Access:

    ACCESS INTO THEATRE: Theatre is not completely wheelchair accessible. There are no steps into the theatre from the sidewalk. Please be advised that where there are steps either into or within the theatre, we are unable to provide assistance. ORCHESTRA LOCATION: Seating is accessible to all parts of the Orchestra without steps. There are no steps to the designated wheelchair seating location. MEZZANINE LOCATION: Located on the 2nd level: up 20 steps. Please Note: On the Mezzanine level, there are approximately 2 steps up/down per row. Entrance to Mezzanine is behind row C. RESTROOM: There is a wheelchair accessible restroom (unisex) located on the lobby level. There is a men's restroom located on the Mezzanine level. A ladies' restroom is located on the lower lounge (down 18 steps).

  • Water Fountain: Mezzanine, Ladies Lounge, and in the rear orchestra of the theatre.

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 302 West 45th Street in midtown Manhattan.

Designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh for vaudeville promoter Martin Beck, the theatre opened as the Martin Beck Theatre with a production of Madame Pompadour on November 11, 1924. It was the only theatre in New York that was owned outright without a mortgage. It was designed to be the most opulent theatre of its time, and has dressing rooms for 200 actors. The theatre has a seating capacity of 1,424 for musicals.

Famous appearances include Basil Rathbone as Romeo with Katharine Cornell as Juliet in December 1934; Burgess Meredith as Mio in Winterset in 1935; Richard Gere in Bent; Frank Langella in Dracula; Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes; Christina Applegate as the title role in Sweet Charity; David Hyde Pierce as Lt. Coffi in the musical Curtains; and Daniel Radcliffe in the latest revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

On June 21, 2003, it was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in honor of the caricaturist famous for his drawings of Broadway celebrities, and reopened on November 23, 2003, with a revival of the musical Wonderful Town.

This is one of five theatres owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theatres, who purchased it in 1965 from the Beck family.[1]

2003 renaming[edit]

In the Fall of 2002, Jujamcyn Theatres announced that the Martin Beck Theatre would be renamed in June 2003 in honor of illustrator Al Hirschfeld, as Hirschfeld approached his 100th birthday. Jujamcyn President Rocco Landesman described the renaming as “an important event for the history and heritage of Broadway.” [2] Landesman stated that “No one working in our world is more deserving than Al Hirschfeld.” Notably, Hirschfeld has become the only visual artist to have a Broadway theater named after him.[3]James H. Binger, Chairman of Jujamcyn, explained that because Hirschfeld “started working in New York only two years after the Martin Beck Theatre was built, it seems wholly appropriate that the building bear his name--they have shared the street during Broadway’s golden age and beyond.” [4] In order to reflect how Hirschfeld’s career spanned the Martin Beck’s years of operation, a gallery was installed in the mezzanine which features 22 reproductions of the artist’s drawings portraying plays and actors who appeared at the theater.[5]

Although Hirschfeld died prior to the official renaming on June 23, 2003, he knew that he would be receiving the honor.[6] A celebration and tribute to Hirschfeld was held on the evening of the renaming, featuring performers such as Carol Channing, Matthew Broderick, Barbara Cook, playwright Arthur Miller, and many other figures drawn by Hirschfeld during their careers.[7] Hirschfeld’s traditional aisle seat was left vacant in his honor during the presentation.[8] The tribute opened with a screen projection of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell,[9] in which the artist portrays himself in his creative process and showcases his distinctive use of crow quill pen and Higgins India Ink in his drawings.[10]

The theater constructed a new marquee to mark its renaming, featuring an illuminated version of Hirschfeld’s Self-Portrait As An Inkwell.[11] West 45th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues was closed to traffic for the unveiling of the new marquee.[12] The marquee was initially installed with red neon representing the “ink,” but blue neon was later substituted because the red was perceived by some as “macabre”.[13]

Notable productions[edit]

Box Office Record[edit]

Kinky Boots achieved the box office record for the Al Hirschfield Theatre. The production grossed $2,247,240 over nine performances, for the week ending December 29, 2013.[14]


  2. ^Jacobs, Leonard,
  3. ^Windman, Matt,
  4. ^Jacobs,
  5. ^Windman,
  6. ^Pogrebin, Robin, New York Times
  7. ^Simonson, Robert, Playbill.comArchived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^Pogrebin, New York Times
  9. ^Buckley, Michael and Portantiere, Michael,
  10. ^Rizzo, Frank, The Courant
  11. ^Simonson, Robert, Playbill.comArchived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^Pogrebin, New York Times
  13. ^Playbill.comArchived 2013-11-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^BWW News Desk [1],


  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p. 1184.

External links[edit]

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