Developer and theatre booster Douglas Durst, who says he has been approached by the Roundabout Theatre Company and producer Jordan Roth about possibly using the old Henry Miller's Theatre, predicts that the legit house will now need a year's worth of work to make it suitable for theatrical operations.
Durst regained control of the theatre about a month ago after evicting a long-term tenant who had run the venue as the Kit Kat Klub. During its life at the Kit Kat Klub, is housed Roundabout's hit revival of Cabaret was launched and Rollin' on the T.O.B.A.. The relationship between the tenant and the theatre owner had reportedly been strained at various times over the past few years.
Routine inquiries from both Roundabout's Todd Haimes and producer Jordan Roth (The Donkey Show, and the forthcoming The Rocky Horror Show) did not develop, Durst explained, because the still theatre requires extensive work. "It's a matter of life-safety issues," Durst told Playbill On-Line. "The sprinkler system is inoperable. We're trying to restore the theatre the way it used to be but, unfortunately, the tenant left it in pretty terrible condition. We're trying to figure what to do to make it legally usable."
Haimes recently told the press that the Roundabout would be gaining control of and opening yet another theatre -- a small, Off-Broadway house -- in the near future. Haimes implied that the theatre was in the general vicinity of the theatre district and that the house would have less than 500 seats -- a detail that would seem to exclude the Henry Miller's Theatre.
Rumors about possible uses for the Henry Miller's have surfaced in recent weeks, following Durst's success with the recent eviction there and confirmation from the American Theatre Wing that the Tony administration committee has approved the reinstatement of the theatre's eligibility. As with all Broadway theatres, this eligibility is based on the number of seats in the house. Durst said that once the scope of the work at the Henry Miller's and the costs involved were determined, it would be possible to predict what use the theatre will have.
"We're just very fortunate that nothing very serious happened to the theatre," Durst said.
-- By Murdoch McBride