The long-running Broadway revue Smokey Joe's Cafe will give New York theatregoers and tourists a taste of its talents on Nov. 18, when cast members from the musical perform at the newly-opened Times Square Visitors Center. The gig is part of "Big Broadway Lunch Break," the League of American Theatres and Producers' new weekly series of free performances at the center.
Subsequent performances -- all of which take place at noon -- will feature Titanic (Nov. 25). The series runs through Dec. 30.
The Times Square Visitors Center is located on the east side of Broadway between 46th and 47th Street. For information, call 1-(888) 276-2392 or (in the New York metro area) (212) 302-4111.
On Sept. 2, the chandeliers and lights inside the old Embassy Theatre at 1560 Broadway glowed again, as the building began its new life as the Times Square Visitors Center. The previous Center, on 42nd Street, was housed in a building that collapsed Dec. 30, 1997. The Times Square Business Improvement District expects the 5,000 sq. ft. center is expected to draw 20 million people annually. Patrons will be able to buy full-price theatre tickets at the venue, as well as get sightseeing information, take bus tours, get multilingual tourism information, use six automated tellers and internet stations, buy MTA metrocards, exchange currency and buy international newspapers.
Designed to comply with the venue's landmark status, the building's renovations were made by F. J. Sciame Construction Company, at a cost of $1 million. The original Embassy was built in 1925 and used as an MGM movie theatre. In the change-over to this landmarked (1987) venue, the seats will be removed and a new, patterned floor will be put in.
BID President Gretchen Dykstra said of the Center, "It will be open all day, every day...the perfect example of building the new Times Square on the roots of the old."
-- By Robert Simonson