Radio City Closing for Renovations; No Tonys There in '99

News   Radio City Closing for Renovations; No Tonys There in '99 Wherever the Tony Awards ceremony is going to be held in 1999, it's not going to be at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Wherever the Tony Awards ceremony is going to be held in 1999, it's not going to be at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Opulent as the hall may appear to patrons of its annual Christmas show and to viewers of the past two years' Tony Awards, the new owners at Cablevision Systems think it could be more. A lot more. The New York Times reported (June 15) that the owners want to enhance the theatre's neon marquee, redo the central foyer's carpets and wallpaper, update the lighting, sound systems and famous pipe organ, replace the 144 foot stage curtain, and overhaul the theatre's hydraulics. Also in the works are a radio station, a cable channel and a record label.

The price for all this renovation is pegged at $30 million, not to mention revenue lost when the venue closes for repair Mar.-Sept. 1999. Radio City CEO James Dolan told the Times, "We're going to take the building back to 1932 but bring its infrastructure forward past the year 2000."

Asked where the renovations would push next year's Tony Awards (generally given the first Sunday in June), Tony spokesperson Kevin Rehac (of Keith Sherman Associates) told Playbill On-Line (June 15) a venue for the Awards generally isn't chosen until after the New Year, "So even if there were nothing going on at Radio City, we wouldn't know because it's on a year-by-year basis."

Asked about next season's show, Tony ceremony Managing Producer Roy Somlyo told Playbill On-Line (June 17) it was too early to mention a theatre. He did say, however, that in their deal with Radio City, the Wing and League have an obligation to look at Radio City's sister theatre, the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. "They have to consider it first," said Somlyo. Dave Checketts, CEO of Madison Square Garden (a Cablevision subsidiary) promises the cost for Radio City renovations won't translate to higher ticket prices at Radio City shows and concerts. Instead, the increased number of productions at the theatre, added to television events and pay-per-view ventures, would make up the shortfall. Checketts also said Radio City would reopen with a gala, nationally-televised event in fall 1999.

Built in the early 1930s, Radio City Music Hall boasts 5,901 seats. According to the Times, Cablevision and its architects, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, hope to install computer kiosks offering information about upcoming performances.

-- By David Lefkowitz

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