Five pairs of golden scissors snipped a wide green ribbon February 8, as the refurbished 1903 vintage Hudson Theatre relit and reopened as simultaneously Broadway’s oldest and newest theatre.
The ceremony took place under the glass and steel marquee of the playhouse on on West 44th Street, and was performed by NYC Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal, stars of the first show in the reopened playhouse; Kwek Leng Beng, chairman of Millennium and Copthorns Hotels (owner of the theatre building); and Eric Paris, general manager of the retrofitted Hudson, which was last used as the Broadway house half a century ago.
Reporters were then ushered in beneath the restored Tiffany glass and mosaics of the lobby into the cream-and-gold interior of the playhouse, where musicians were rehearsing a revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Sunday in the Park With George, which will serve as the first production at the restored theatre.
Ashford, who co-stars with Gyllenhaal in the revival, acknowledged the ghosts that all actors believe haunt the theatres, and added, “We are outrageously honored to be reopening this special space with this special piece of art. It doesn't feel like it’s old at all. It feels brand new. We feel that the ghosts of those who have come before us will support and love [us].
Gyllenhaal said, “To think of the history on this stage, and to think that there was a group of people who were excited and courageous enough to recreate this space for a whole new generation of artists, to bring joy to the world, to bring feeling into the world, to bring a sense of individuality and encouragement of that into the world, is what this space seems to mean to me. We are here as an unlikely combination of people creating something that I think is really sort of unlikely and extraordinary for this space. It is an honor to be here.”
He added, “I can't stress enough how important it is to have joy in this world. That's what this space is, that’s what this show is all about. It's all about love and joy, and I hope people will come and experience that with us.”