Outside the Inn, a religious-themed Christmas play with music, will have three performances Dec. 20 at 10 AM, 3 PM and 6 PM. The show is open to the public, and admission is free.
Here's how the church describes the show: "Have you ever considered the shepherds outside of Bethlehem may have struggled with issues like us today? If you were inside the Bethlehem Inn, would you have made room for Mary and Joseph, not knowing who they were? This production presents to the audience a look at dramatic circumstance surrounding the birth of Christ and living for the benefit of others."
The opulent interior of the Hellinger has been preserved largely intact by the church.
This week's announcement that New York's old Hudson Theatre was being refurbished and returned to service as a Broadway theatre focused attention on the one-time playhouses that still exist in the city, though turned to other uses. Coincidentally, the Times Square Church, which owns the former Hellinger Theatre, is hosting the show the same week.
The Hellinger, located on 51st Street just west of Broadway, opened in 1930 as the Hollywood Theatre, a cinema. In 1934 a short-lived revue, Calling All Stars, was the first Broadway show to play there. In 1949 it was renamed for theatre columnist and producer Mark Hellinger and began a distinguished three-decade career as a Broadway house. The last hit to play the Hellinger was Sugar Babies in 1979. In the 1980s, however, the theatre hosted a series of short-lived runs, including Rags, Grind, Merlin and A Doll's Life. The last legitimate show booked there was the musical Legs Diamond in 1988-89. For more information on Outside the Inn, visit tscnyc.org. For those who can't get to the theatre in person, there will be a live webcast of the performances on the website as well.