Neil Simon Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • A large theater on West 52nd Street, New York. It opened asthe Alvin Theatre in 1927 with a production of George Gershwin'smusical comedy Funny Face. The theater's name combined thefirst names of the owners, Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley. Itsseating capacity of 1344 makes it ideal for large musicals. In the 1930s theAlvin staged a string of hit musicals including Gershwin's Porgyand Bess (1935), Kaufman and Hart's I'd Rather Be Right(1937), and George Abbott's The Boys from Syracuse (1938).Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Ethel Merman all starred at the theater.Later successes included A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to theForum (1962), a musical based on the plays of Plautus starringZero Mostel, Sondheim's Company (1970), and Annie (1977).The Alvin also presented serious dramas, such as O'Neill's MourningBecomes Electra (1931), Maxwell Anderson's Mary of Scotland(1933), and Robert Sherwood's There Shall Be No Night (1940),with the Lunts.

    In 1983 the theater was renamed in honour of Neil Simon,a number of whose plays have since been premiered there. Recent successesinclude a revival of The King and I (1996), which won two Tony Awardsand ran until 1999, and the kitsch musical Hairspray (2002), whichgarnered eight Tonys and ran for over six years.

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