Joop van den Ende, the European producer who owns and chairs Stage Holding, and collaborates with Dodger Theatricals on Broadway shows, told Variety Dodger/Stage Holding plans to create five Off-Broadway theatres in the underground space that once held the Worldwide Plaza cinemas between 50th and 51st streets between Eighth and Ninth avenues.
The former Loews Cineplex Odeon Theater space has 55,361 square feet and is located underground at Worldwide Plaza, a massive office-retail complex with a popular outdoor promenade. Dodger is planning two 499-seat theatres, two 400 seat theatres and a fifth with 299-seats. One box office would link the spaces, and a restaurant is part of the plan, the trade paper reported.
Van den Ende told Variety the spaces would house Dodger product (presumably this would be a launchpad for Broadway shows) and local productions (with tenants presumably being both for-profit and not-for-profit troupes).
No pricetag has been announced, though September 2003 was reported as the opening for the complex. The movie theatre has been shuttered for many months.
European-based van den Ende will let the American Dodger part of the company run the New York venture. Stage Holding is now based in Germany. Dodger and/or Stage Holding's current Broadway productions include Urinetown, Into the Woods and 42nd Street.
Van den Ende has produced more than 70 productions in Europe. His Broadway productions include the recent Footloose, The Music Man, Wrong Mountain, High Society, 1776, Titanic, Once Upon a Mattress, Victor/Victoria, Cyrano and Hamlet.
The New York Post reported Jan. 11 that Dodger was in talks to take over Worldwide Plaza Cinemas and turn it into a theatre complex, including offices, rehearsal space and commercial, 499-seat Off-Broadway theatre.
— By Kenneth Jones