Friday, July 1, 2011

The Venue: Neil Simon Theatre Nabs 'Catch Me If You Can'

(above photos image credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
The Neil Simon Theatre is one the most sought after musical houses on Broadway and currently features the musical 'Catch Me If You Can'. The venue originally opened in 1927 as the Alvin Theatre named after the men who built it and produced shows there ("Al" of "Alex" and the "vin" of "Vinton"; their full names were Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley). After the success of 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' one of the last non-musicals to play over 1,000 performances, the theatre was renamed in 1983 after Neil Simon, one of America's most prolific playwrights.

The theatre hosted two other Simon plays: 'Biloxi Blues' (1985) and 'Jake's Women' (1992). 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' and 'Biloxi Blues' starred Matthew Broderick and introduced him to Broadway audiences. His role in 'Brighton Beach' won him the first of two Tony Awards.

Many remember the Alvin Theatre when it hosted the opening run of the musical 'Annie' (1977) which played the venue for three years before moving to three other theatres during its nearly six-year run of 2,377 performances.

That performance count was topped when the musical 'Hairspray'opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in 2002 for a run of of 2,652 performances without a change in venue. The show also won eight Tony Awards.

The first two shows I ever saw at the Neil Simon Theatre were two glorious musical revivals 'The King and I ' (1996) starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy and featuring a sumptuous production design; and 'The Music Man' (2000) starring Craig Bierko and featured a memorable finale when the entire cast appeared dressed as a marching band toting trombones to play the show's signature tune, "Seventy-Six Trombones."

The theatre is located at 250 West 52nd Street in New York City. A 2002 renovation increased the seating capacity to 1,445 patrons. The before and after photos below show where the additional rows were added. The venue is one of nine theatres owned by the Nederlander Organization. The theatre's official online ticketing service is through

A 2002 renovation added seats with additional rows in the rear
An additional row of seats in the center mezzanine added during the
2002 renovation.
Added exit doors made this side alley into a new entrance/exit.
(above three images:
The lounge downstairs from the orchestra.


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