Sunday, July 1, 2012

Venue: Studio 54 Invites 'Harvey' Play Revival to Broadway

Studio 54 facade along 54th Street.
The box office lobby of Studio 54. (photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Anyone with any knowledge of the Disco Era will no doubt know the name of Studio 54, the popular New York City nightclub dubbed the most famous of all time. Probably cementing the the club's name into prominence was its popularity with celebrities and a Billboard charting two-disc vinyl album of disco classics called "A Night At Studio 54".

Today the Roundabout Theatre Company owns and operates the venue as one of two for their Broadway subscription series (the other venue is the American Airlines Theatre). From the organization's website:

Studio 54 was originally built as the Gallo Opera House in 1927 and transformed into the New Yorker Theatre in 1930. CBS purchased the space in 1942 and made it the home of renowned television shows like "The Johnny Carson Show." CBS sold the space in the late 1970s, and the new owners transformed the space into the most legendary nightclub of the disco-era, Studio 54. The club closed in 1986 and became a venue for rock concerts until it eventually closed completely in the late 1980s. The space remained vacant until 1998, when Roundabout moved its landmark production of Cabaret into the neglected theatre-turned-studio-turned-nightclub. Today, Studio 54 is a permanent home for Roundabout Theatre Company.

The productions, all revivals, I've seen at Studio 54: 'Cabaret' in 2000 which at the time starred Joely Fisher and Michael C. Hall; '110 in the Shade' (2007) starring Audra McDonald, Steve Kazee and John Cullum; 'Sunday in the Park with George (2008); and today's performance of 'Harvey' starring Jim Parsons.

It should be noted that for 'Cabaret' the theater was in poor condition befitting the story of the musical. In lieu of orchestra seats were round table seating with banquette seating along the walls turning the ground floor into literally a cabaret. To bring the cabaret feeling into the mezzanine level, the theater seating remained in place except at intervals where the seat was replaced with a table and lamp.

After the musical closed in 2004, the theatre was renovated and returned to normal orchestra and mezzanine seating. The venue has generous common spaces inside the entrance, at the box office and behind the orchestra level to hold theatergoers during pre-show and intermission. The new orchestra seating was built on a raised platform which require visitors to walk a couple of steps at the rear of the orchestra. Those seated at the sides of the orchestra are blocked in by a railing so access to seating is from the two inner aisles. As usual the mezzanine seating is steeply raked but offer generous views of the stage.

Other revival productions produced by the Roundabout to play Studio 54: Stephen Sondheim's 'Assassins' (2004) and 'Pacific Overtures' (2004); 'The Threepenny Opera' starring Cyndi Lauper; and 'Pal Joey' (2008).

Click HERE for more information about Studio 54. Click HERE for seating chart.

Studio 54 facade.
The intricate ceiling detail just inside Studio 54's entrance.
Mirrors and marble detail just inside the Studio 54 entrance.
The revival of 'Harvey' the current tenant at Studio 54.
A tag line advertising 'Harvey' at Studio 54's entrance.
Studio 54 marquee facing east on 54th Street.


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