Helen Hayes Theatre Joins Disney and Jujamcyn Broadway Houses in Dimming Lights for Joan Rivers

News   Helen Hayes Theatre Joins Disney and Jujamcyn Broadway Houses in Dimming Lights for Joan Rivers
 
The Helen Hayes Theatre, which was home to Joan Rivers' Sally Marr...and Her Escorts, is among the latest Broadway houses to announce plans to dim its lights Sept. 9 in memory of late Tony Award nominee and comic pioneer Rivers.

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers

Currently home to Rock of Ages, the Helen Hayes Theatre will dim its lights at 6:45 PM, representatives confirmed to Playbill.com. The Hayes is independently owned by Martin Markinson and Jeff Tick of The Little Theatre Group.The theatre joins Jujamcyn Theaters' five Broadway houses and Disney's flagship venue The New Amsterdam Theatre (home to Aladdin), which will also pay tribute to Rivers Sept. 9.

The independent move by theatre owners and producers follows a Sept. 8 interview in the New York Times in which Broadway League executive director Charlotte St. Martin stated that Rivers did not meet the criteria for Broadway's lights to be dimmed. The trade organization representing Broadway theatre owners and producers historically decides as a whole for all Broadway theatres to darken their marquees in memory of Broadway artists.

Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters, tweeted Sept. 8 that his theatres would dim the lights of their marquees Sept. 9 at 6:45 PM in Rivers' memory.

 

Jujamcyn's theatres include the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, currently home to the Tony-winning Kinky Boots; the Walter Kerr Theatre, home to the Tony-winning A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder; the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, home to the Tony-winning The Book of Mormon; the August Wilson Theatre, home to the Tony-winning Jersey Boys; and the St. James Theatre, which will soon house the Broadway revival of Side Show.

Disney Theatrical also announced Sept. 9 that the marquee of its critically acclaimed new musical Aladdin, which plays the New Amsterdam Theatre, would also be dimmed. The Aladdin tweet reads, "We ain't never had a friend like Joan! @DisneyOnStage is proud to dim the New Am marquee tonight in honor of the late-great Joan Rivers."

 

 

Rivers, who died Sept. 4 at the age of 81, earned a Best Actress Tony Award nomination for her 1994 play Sally Marr...and Her Escorts, which she co-wrote. She made her Broadway debut in Fun City in 1972 (a play she also co-wrote) and took over the role of Kate in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound.

In addition to her stage work, Rivers was a fixture at Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, regularly seen in the audience and posing for photos with cast members backstage. Rivers also championed the work of many in the theatre community.

Read "Can We Talk?": 12 Reasons Why Joan Rivers Was a Broadway Baby.

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According to the New York Times, executives at the League determined that Rivers did not meet the criteria for Broadway's lights to be dimmed. "Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway – people who made their careers here, or kept it up," the Broadway League's executive director Charlotte St. Martin told the Times in an interview.

St. Martin stated that while Rivers was supportive of the theatre community, hers was not a name that was synonymous with Broadway, adding that the decision not to dim the lights of theatre marquees in her memory was not intended as a slight.

The Times noted that in recent weeks the League dimmed Broadway's lights in memory of late actor-comedian Robin Williams, who appeared on Broadway only twice. Mr. Williams was an Academy Award recipient, but was not nominated for a Tony Award. Similarly, the League dimmed its lights in 2012 for "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, a Tony Award nominee for God of Carnage, who was best known for his work on screen.

Rivers' funeral, which was held Sept. 7, featured performances by Tony Award winners Audra McDonald and Hugh Jackman as well as the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, who sang the show tunes "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" and "Big Spender." Bernadette Peters, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were among the theatre stars in attendance. In addition, the New York Police Department's Emerald Society played Kander and Ebb's "New York, New York" and the George M. Cohan classic "Give My Regards to Broadway."

Following the news, a petition was created asking the League to reverse its decision. 

Numerous members of the theatre community offered statements and took to social media to remember Rivers following her death.

Read Playbill.com's obituary for Rivers here.

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