Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Venue: Vivian Beaumont Theater Secures 'War Horse'

View of the foyer showing the two levels of entry
into the auditorium. (all photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
The Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center is the only one of the official Broadway venues located outside of the Times Square theatre district and also the only one with a thrust stage.

(For theatre experts I'll exclude the Circle in the Square since it's technically a theater in the round, though depending on the staging it appears to have a thrust configuration. Also those who remember the thrust stage used for 'Cats' at the Winter Garden will it restored to a proscenium configuration when 'Mamma Mia!' took over the venue.)

Built at a cost of $9.7 million, the Beaumont opened in 1965 and named for the philanthropist who donated half of the construction cost. Another smaller theater called the Mitzi E. Newhouse (an off-Broadway venue) located downstairs occupies the same building.

Like all the modern theatres of Broadway, the foyer has a large lobby space to mill around before the show and during intermission. The plaza outside offers generous breathing space as well. Stadium seating allows for unobstructed views of the stage from all seats. However these are some of the most uncomfortable seats due to the lack of leg room between rows. Finally there is the type of view of the main action. Directors, some more successful than others, always have the challenge to be sure that the actors play a scene to all seats around the the thrust stage. As much as possible I prefer seats in the three center orchestra sections and preferably an aisle for the extra legroom. The theater seats 1,080 patrons on two levels.

One unusual aspect of the Beaumont's thrust configuration is performers exit and enter stage right and left but also through two sets of stairs at the front of the stage that run below the orchestra seats. Click HERE for a view of the thrust stage in a post featuring the 'South Pacific' marquee which played the Beaumont from 2008 to 2010.

Lincoln Center Theater operates as a not-for-profit and most of the shows the organization produces are only scheduled for limited runs. The production may change to an extended or open-ended run should audience demand exist. Because of this some of LCT's productions are presented at other Broadway theatres.

The productions I've been fortunate to experience at the Beaumont Theater: 'Arcadia' (1995) which featured Paul Giamatti and Robert Sean Leonard; the dance musical 'Contact' (2000); Stephen Sondheim's 'The Frogs' (2004) starring Nathan Lane;  'The Light in the Piazza' (2005) featuring Matthew Morrison; 'South Pacific' (2008) and today 'War Horse'. By the way several productions of LCT have been filmed for presentation on Public Television's 'Great Performance'. These are strictly one-time presentations and not made for video or DVD release. 'Light in the Piazza', 'South Pacific', 'Contact' and the sumptuous 1998 production of William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' starring Helen Hunt, Paul Rudd and Kyra Sedwick were all broadcasted on television at the end of the their runs at the Beaumont.

Some other famous productions to play the Beaumont include a revival of 'Anything Goes' (1987) starring Patti Lupone; Six Degrees of Separation (1990) with Stockard Channing; and the National Theatre production of 'Carousel' (1994) which won Audra McDonald her first of four Tony Awards.

A mural of sketches from the Beaumont's current production 'War Horse'.

Sketches of the horse puppets used in 'War Horse' hung over the
merchandise shop in the lobby.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...