Theatre fans get a rare chance to tour a “lost” Broadway theatre this weekend.
The Times Square Church, which bought Broadway‘s venerable Mark Hellinger Theatre and converted it into a place of worship in the 1980s, is hosting free performances of the Nativity play Bethlehem on Broadway , featuring more than 100 actors and live animals, including lamas, alpacas, donkeys, goats, and mini-horses, according to the website DNAInfo.com.
The play is being performed outside the theatre at 237 West 51st Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, December 17. The 40-minute play Bethlehem on Broadway will be performed six times throughout the day, at the top of each hour from 11 AM to 5 PM.
As part of the event, the church is conducting tours of the opulent playhouse that once housed My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar. Tours will be conducted throughout the day, starting at 10:30 AM. The Hellinger was built as a movie palace and opened in 1930 as Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre. It was refurbished in 1934 as a legitimate theatre and later renamed for theatre journalist Mark Hellinger. During its years as a Broadway house, it hosted several major musicals, including My Fair Lady, Jesus Christ Superstar, Coco, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Sugar Babies. Formerly owned by the Nederlander Organization, it was leased to the Times Square Church in 1989. The church bought the building in 1991.
Bethlehem on Broadway is described thus on the church’s website: “The street itself is the stage and the people will be part of the experience—walking with the shepherds as they hear the news, following the star with the three kings arriving from afar, singing with the angels proclaiming his birth and being filled with awe and wonder when they see the baby born in a manger destined to save the world. The production will include new musical arrangements of traditional Christmas carols as well as original songs.”
Visit tscnyc.org/bethlehem-on-broadway for more information.