Will 42nd Street Develop Theatre Row Next?


16 Jan 1998

We've certainly seen the results of the 42nd Street Development Project in the resurgence -- and G-rated neon -- of Times Square. According to Back Stage, the renovation won't stop at Eighth Avenue but will push west to encompass Theatre Row, a haven for Off and Off-Off-Broadway theatre.

We've certainly seen the results of the 42nd Street Development Project in the resurgence -- and G-rated neon -- of Times Square. According to Back Stage, the renovation won't stop at Eighth Avenue but will push west to encompass Theatre Row, a haven for Off and Off-Off-Broadway theatre.

Among the theatres situated on 42nd St. Between 9th & 11th Aves. Are Playwrights Horizons, The Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, the John Houseman, INTAR, the Harold Clurman, the Samuel Beckett, and the Judith Anderson. Playwrights Horizons is well established as a theatre company, and the Houseman is a large (287 seats), comfortable rental house, but the other theatres are small and often ill-designed visually and acoustically for live performances. That said, their size and condition has made them a viable option for showcases and such (usually) Off-Off-Broadway troupes as Love Creek and Willow Cabin.

Fred Papert, president of the 42nd Street Development Project, told Back Stage the organization's plan was to sell two theatres, build new ones in their place, and to expand, update and rebuild the rest. "Theatre Row has worked very well as a theatre motel," Papert said, promising that the plan would result in no fewer theatres on the block.

This would come as a relief to longtime Theatre Row-goers, who would see Intar, the Judith Anderson and Theatre Row Theatre come down. A residential building, with a theatre underneath, would arise in their stead.



At the same time, the 42nd Street Project is talking with the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York about buying the Harold Clurman and Samuel Beckett venues.

Playwrights Horizons owns its own space; Eric Krebs owns the Signature, John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks.

-- By David Lefkowitz