PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 29-Oct. 5: Rebecca's Woes, Grace Opens, New Homes for Atlantic and Public

By Robert Simonson
05 Oct 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Manhattan theatre building boom of the last year — the sprawling Pershing Square Signature Center, the new Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center Theater — continued this week with a vengeance. Supporters and donors and artists attended the Oct. 1 unveiling of the Atlantic Theater Company's newly renovated mainstage home in the Chelsea neighborhood. Unlike other recent construction projects undertaken by other New York theatre companies, which replaced old digs with completely new architectural visions, the Atlantic sought, in its $8.3 renovation of its landmarked home, to preserve the space's basic look and feeling, while improving patron and backstage facilities. Including new bathrooms; in fact, most importantly, new bathrooms.

Three days later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others gathered in the East Village to christen the Public Theater's new digs, which have transformed Joe's Pub, the lobby, the dressing rooms, the newly opened mezzanine, the outer entryway and much more, at cost a total of $40 million. Plus new bathrooms, wonderful new bathrooms. (One gets the idea that when theatres embark on a new construction process, restroom facilities are the first item on the agenda.)

The commemoration of the Public Theater's renovation will continue over the next two months through a series of cultural events. Among them is a block party and open house on Oct 13, from noon to 5 PM, in which Lafayette Street between Astor Place and West 4th Street will be partially closed to traffic.

In other Public Theater news, alumna and film goddess Meryl Streep donated $1 million to the theater. "I give this gift in honor of the founder of The Public Theater, my friend and mentor Joseph Papp, and in remembrance of one of the theatre's Board members and greatest supporters, my friend Nora Ephron," Streep said in a statement. Ephron died earlier this year. Streep began her professional relationship with the Public more than 35 years ago.


Christmas has been saved. Following a nationwide search, producers of A Christmas Story, The Musical announced Oct. 2 that Johnny Rabe will play that dear little four-eyes, Ralphie, in the holiday engagement of the musical at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Rabe auditioned for the 2011 national tour of A Christmas Story, The Musical in Chicago last year. Too young for the role last year, producers kept an eye on Rabe by casting him as one of Ralphie's classmates. A year later, Rabe once again auditioned, and won the producers over. And over at the Hirschfeld, the producers of Elf have found their title North Pole sprite — it's Avenue Q veteran Jordan Gelber.