Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Venue: Laura Pels Theatre Hosts 'Death Takes a Holiday' Off-Broadway

(all photos except where noted: TheHopeulTraveler)
A short walk east from Times Square on 46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues is the Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre. The venue is part of the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Theatre, a subterranean complex that includes the mainstage 400-seat Laura Pels and the 65-seat Roundabout Underground Black Box Theatre.

Formerly the American Place Theatre, the complex received $5.5 million makeover and opened in February 2004. The Laura Pels Theatre had an existence prior to the 46th Street location since 1995. The complex was developed with the support of the Steinbergs to support an artistic mission of fostering emerging talent in playwriting, performance and stagecraft. The Laura Pels is used for new works by established playwrights. The Underground Black Box is for new works of emerging writers and directors.

The intimate Laura Pels Theatre has 15 rows in the orchestra level and three rows in the mezzanine. Seat configuration on both levels include a center section and seats right and left separated by two center aisles. With no orchestra pit, the first row is mere feet from the stage. The box office is located at street level. The theatre is underground and is accessed via a set of stairs and escalator or elevator. An intimate lounge serving drinks and snacks including seating and tables is larger than similar spaces in most Broadway theatres.

Auditorium interior
The theater is one of three owned and maintained by the non-profit Roundabout Theatre Company. Their other two venues include the American Airlines Theatre and Studio 54. The theater is named for Laura Pels who serves on the board of the Roundabout and founded the Laura Pels Foundation in 1992 with the purpose of supporting theater and has contributed to a roster of not-for-profit productions and educational programs.

Some of the productions to play the theatre include new works and revivals: ‘The Foreigner’ (2004) starring Matthew Broderick; ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane’ (2006) starring Alec Baldwin; ‘Mr. Marmalade’ (2005) starring Michael C. Hall (TV’s “Dexter”); ‘Suddenly Last Summer” (2006) starring Blythe Danner and Carla Gugino; ‘Howard Katz’ (2008) starring Alfred Molina; ‘Crimes of the Heart’ (2008) directed by Kathleen Turner; ‘Distracted’ (2009) starring Cynthia Nixon. 'Death Takes A Holiday' which opens later this summer in 2011 is one of the few musicals to be staged at the theatre.

The theatre's bar with tables and seats


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