Public Theater Unveils $40 Million Renovation of Lafayette Street Home Oct. 4 | Playbill

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News Public Theater Unveils $40 Million Renovation of Lafayette Street Home Oct. 4 The Public Theater officially opens its doors Oct. 4 to unveil the $40 million renovation of its Lafayette Street home, the 158-year-old former Astor Library, which has served as its residence since 1967. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as Tony Award winners Vanessa Redgrave, Mandy Patinkin and Liev Schreiber are expected to be in attendance.

The 10 AM debut promises the "throwing out of the first lines" of Shakespeare by city officials and artists with ties to The Public, followed by a special performance from the rock musical Hair, which had its world premiere at The Public when it opened in 1967.

Those visiting the newly-renovated Public Theater will first encounter the building's historic façade, which has been completely restored, featuring a new glass canopied granite veranda, including an outer staircase and two ramps flanking the building to provide easier access for disabled patrons. An expanded, wider sidewalk and new poster boxes have also been installed. The lobby and entryway of the building have also been renovated, with a new centrally-located box office and increased restrooms.

Also revealed is the Library, a new 2,000-square-foot lounge, expected to seat roughly 84 guests, which takes on a vintage feel, with a textured area rug in the central gathering area, distressed leather chairs, and industrial steel-frame bookcases along the perimeter of the room, all evoking the space's previous life as the Astor Library.

The Library serves cocktails, wine, beer and an "American menu of classic and signature dishes, appetizers, bar snacks, and desserts" nightly until 2 AM. The Public's nightlife and music venue, Joe's Pub, was renovated in 2011 with plush new seating and designs (Joe's Pub has been operating during the recent renovation period).

As part of the Public Theater's celebration of its updated digs, an Oct. 13 block party will invite members of the public to tour the theatre on that day. Musical performances include selections from Giant by Sybille Pearson and Michael John LaChiusa; Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim; Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron; and last season's The Total Bent by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. The 12-5 PM festivities will take place on Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 4th Street.

"The Public is open, and we're inviting everyone in the city to come take a look," Public artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement. "Joe Papp believed that the theatre belonged to everyone, and this renovation of our home building is designed to create a lively, welcoming center for people to meet, gather, and celebrate."

Additional musical highlights on Oct. 13 are Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess; Sasha Allen of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Hair; banjo player Tony Trischka; and M.A.K.U. SoundSystem.

The block party, held rain or shine, will also include New York City food trucks, including Go Burger, Korilla BBQ, Rickshaw Dumplings, The Treats Truck, Valducci's Pizza, as well as offerings from Carmellini and Oliver, which provides dining hospitality for Joe's Pub and the Public's new lounge, the Library.


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