Helen Hayes Theatre Sold For $24.7M, Adding Fourth Nonprofit To Broadway’s Bazaar

UPDATE SATURDAY MORNING: Adds information from Second Stage, plus press release, below story.

Second Stage theater confirmed Saturday Deadline’s exclusive report that its purchase of the Helen Hayes Theatre was completed yesterday. Second Stage said that renovation of the theater will begin next year, under the direction of architect and designer David Rockwell. The company plans to present its first season at the Tony-eligible house in the 2017-2018 season. A major contributor to Second Stage Theatre’s purchase and renovation of the landmarked theatre, the company said, is the City of New York. A person with knowledge of the deal also said that Second Stage borrowed money to complete the deal, after the owners had agreed to several extensions of the original closing date.

“Second Stage’s expansion into the Helen Hayes Theatre will bring joy to that many more people,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to have helped with funding Second Stage in the past, because they’re the kind of institution that enriches our city, showcasing the work of emerging artists and offering multiple programs to bring theatre to wider audience.”

EXCLUSIVE: Second Stage Theatre, one of New York’s most prominent off-Broadway companies, closed Friday on its deal to buy the Helen Hayes Theatre, Deadline has confirmed. The $24.7 million purchase will add the fourth nonprofit company operating Tony-eligible Broadway theaters — essential, the nonprofits say, in attracting top talent.

Harvey Fierstein On BroadwayThe closing ends an eight-year saga that began in 2007, when Second Stage, which is run by artistic director Carole Rothman and executive director Casey Reitz, offered to buy the theater, with 579 seats the smallest Broadway house, but couldn’t immediately finance the project. Most recently, Second Stage filed a lawsuit against the theater’s owners, Jeffrey Tick and Martin Markinson, accusing them of trying to renege on the deal because of the profitable run of a commerical venture, the musical Rock Of Ages. Martinson and Tick vehemently denied the assertion and said they remained ready to move forward with the closing if the theater came up with the money.

“We closed with 2nd Stage today,” Tick told Deadline Friday evening . He added, “All good.” No other details were immediately available. But earlier this season, Second Stage lost a major booking — the U.S. premier of the Duncan Sheik musical American Psycho, when commercial producers decided to take it straight to Broadway following a successful U.K. tryout.

Although its size makes it a challenge to produce profitably, the Helen Hayes has shown with such long-running engagements as Rock of Ages, Xanadu and Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy that with careful management, money can be made. More important for Second Stage, it will provide the company, where such shows as the prize-winning musical Next To Normal got their start, with one of the 40 theaters eligible for Tony Awards. Plays and musicals produced off-Broadway don’t get to enter the Tony races.

Currently, Lincoln Center Theater operates the Vivian Beaumont; the Manhattan Theatre Club operates the Samuel J. Friedman and the Roundabout Theatre Company operates the American Airlines, the Stephen Sondheim and Studio 54. Those theaters have helped sustain the companies through difficult times, although they can also be financial burdens themselves. They also are controversial because they compete with commercial producers and landlords for shows. The Carole King musical Beautiful, for example, is a long-running hit at the Roundabout’s Sondheim, and another commercial venture, An Act of God — a limited run starring The Big bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons — is about to begin performances at Studio 54. Productions like that, and the Roundabout’s revived revival of Cabaret, have been essential to the company’s balance sheet.

Second Stage currently operates its mainstage in a Rem Koolhaas-designed theater on West 43rd Street in Times Square and has a smaller house on the Upper West Side as well. The next question is who will pay the $10 million-plus likely asking price for naming rights to the Helen Hayes, which was earlier called the Little Theatre until it was renamed after the original Helen Hayes Theatre was torn down in the 1980s.

Here’s Second Stage’s anouncement:

Second Stage Theatre today announced that it has completed its purchase of the Helen Hayes Theatre, located at 240 W. 44th Street. With this new home, Second Stage will be the only theatre company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to developing and producing works by living American playwrights. Second Stage Theatre is currently scheduled to begin renovations and upgrades to the theatre in 2016 and will stage its first production on Broadway during the 2017-18 season.

“This is an amazing moment, not only for Second Stage Theatre, but for American playwrights and American theatregoers,” said Second Stage Founder and Artistic Director Carole Rothman. “Second Stage takes the commitment to producing new plays very seriously. We pledge to keep our new theatre a bustling center of activity on Broadway, nurturing not only new plays from established and emerging writers, but also feeding a new, diverse generation of theatregoers who will help keep American plays at the heart of the Broadway experience.”

“It’s immensely exciting that Second Stage is expanding their breadth and vision. Broadway needs a space that will showcase the rich diversity of voices that make up the American theatre,” said playwright and Board member Lynn Nottage. “I can’t wait to see how this new

space shifts the creative conversation on Broadway, as it will be introducing a range of artists who previously may not have been represented there.”

“We are very grateful to the many foundations, private donors and Second Stage Trustees who have confidence in this project, as well as our phenomenal staff and professional colleagues who have worked tirelessly to make this very exciting moment possible,” said Second Stage Executive Director Casey Reitz. “Owning the Helen Hayes Theatre will finally provide Second Stage with a permanent home in midtown Manhattan and a firm foundation for long-term planning and financial stability. We are thrilled for the long-anticipated opportunity to be part of Broadway and to renovate this beautiful intimate theatre in the heart of Times Square.”

“My relationship with Second Stage goes back over 20 years. As an actor, as an audience member and now as a member of the Board, I have watched Carole Rothman guide this extraordinary American theater with a singular vision: bringing the work of living American playwrights to the stage,” said Second Stage alumnae and Board member Tony Goldwyn. “Carole’s passion for nurturing artists, for demanding that we push ourselves to our full potential and, more importantly, to realize the potential of the play makes her a visionary among artistic directors. The acquisition of the Helen Hayes Theatre ushers in a new era for Second Stage that will be a rare gift to Broadway audiences and artists alike.”


Second Stage Theatre has enlisted The Rockwell Group to make renovations and updates to the 103 year old landmark building.

“When Second Stage commissioned us to renovate the Helen Hayes Theatre I couldn’t think of a more perfect project,” said David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group. “Broadway theatres contribute so much to the cultural vibrancy of New York that re-imagining this architecturally unique theatre for a new generation of theatergoers is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

A major contributor to Second Stage Theatre’s renovation of the Helen Hayes Theatre is the City of New York.

“Second Stage’s expansion into the Helen Hayes Theatre will bring joy to that many more people,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to have helped with funding Second Stage in the past, because they’re the kind of institution that enriches our city, showcasing the work of emerging artists and offering multiple programs to bring theatre to wider audience.”

“Midtown Manhattan is the global capital of theatre,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “In addition to the economic benefits that it will spur, Second Stage Theatre’s purchase of the landmark Helen Hayes will allow it to continue its tradition of bringing the best American plays to audiences for many years to come. I am proud to represent Second Stage Theatre in the New York City Council.”

Second Stage will continue to lease and operate the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, their original theatre on the Upper West Side, as well as the Tony Kiser Theatre in Midtown Manhattan.


Under the artistic direction of Carole Rothman, SECOND STAGE THEATRE produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America’s best contemporary theatre, including 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes; The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown; Dogfight by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Peter Duchan; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage; Trust and Lonely, I’m Not by Paul Weitz; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz; Everyday Rapture by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith; Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo; Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl; The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; Jitney by August Wilson; Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West; Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein; Crowns by Regina Taylor; Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim; Afterbirth: Kathy & Mo’s Greatest Hits by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy; This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants by Ricky Jay; Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe; A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller; Little Murders by Jules Feiffer; The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry; and Tiny Alice by Edward Albee.

The company’s more than 130 citations include the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley, Next to Normal) and Best Score (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal); the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed); the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin, …Spelling Bee) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler, …Spelling Bee); the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman for Metamorphoses); the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 27 Obie Awards, seven Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Clarence Derwent Awards, 12 Drama Desk Awards, nine Theatre World Awards, 17 Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Critics Circle Award and 23 AUDELCO Awards.

Second Stage Theatre’s original home is the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. The company’s first three seasons were presented in a 99-seat house located in the penthouse of a West Side Hotel. The unorthodox Upper West Side location proved a critical asset in building an audience and a loyal subscriber base, and added a new segment to the theatre-going public. In 1984, Second Stage presented its first production at its new home on Broadway at 76th Street, the 108-seat McGinn/Cazale Theatre, deepening its roots as a fixture of this neighborhood where so little theatre was available at the time.

In 1999, Second Stage Theatre opened its state-of-the-art, 296-seat theatre at 43rd Street, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The Second Stage Theatre Uptown series was inaugurated in 2002 to showcase the work of emerging artists at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre at 76th Street, including The Mystery Plays by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman, The Triple Happiness by Brooke Berman, Swimming in the Shallows by Adam Bock, Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, Bachelorette by Leslye Headland, Warrior Class by

Kenneth Lin, and Murder For Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. The Theatre supports artists through several programs that include residencies, fellowships and commissions, and engages students and community members through education and outreach programs.

Second Stage Theatre will present the World Premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried at the Tony Kiser Theatre. Previews begin April 28 and opening night is May 19. Second Stage Theatre Uptown will present the World Premiere of Emily Schwend’s The Other Thing, directed by Lucie Tiberghein, beginning previews May 12 and opening May 21 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

More information can be found at http://www.2ST.com


When it opened in 1912, the Little Theatre (as it was then known) had only 300 seats and was built as an intimate house to present new playwrights and experimental dramas that were deemed too risky to stage in large Broadway theatres.

In the 1920’s, theatre architect and designer Herbert J. Krapp redesigned the space to increase capacity to nearly 500 and improve the acoustics. In 1931, the building was sold to the New York Times and converted into a conference hall renamed New York Times Hall. CBS used the theatre as a radio facility for a time, but it was reconverted by ABC into a legitimate theatre in 1958, once again as the Little Theatre. When not being used as a theatrical venue, the building was leased to CBS Radio and the Westinghouse Corporation, among others, and housed television and radio shows for ABC and CBS, among them The Dick Clark Show, Who Do You Trust with Johnny Carson, and the Merv Griffin and David Frost shows.

After the original Helen Hayes Theatre on 46th Street was razed in the 1980s to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the Little Theatre was renamed the Helen Hayes to honor the then still-living legend. Notable engagements include a five-year run of Albert Innaurato’s Gemini, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-winner Torch Song Trilogy, Tony-winner The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry, Dirty Blonde, Golda’s Balcony, and the Tony nominated musicals Xanadu and Rock of Ages. The venue remains the smallest house on Broadway. In 1987, it was designated as a Landmark Site by the City of New York’s Landmark Preservation Commission.



This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2015/04/helen-hayes-theatre-sold-for-25-million-fourth-nonprofit-on-broadway-1201412183/