Neil Simon Theater

244 W 52nd St New York

LGBT Theater District/Neil Simon Theater
NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Written By NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community in New York City, illustrating the richness of the city's history and the community's influence on America.

History

Alvin Theater

The biggest hits with LGBT associations at the Alvin Theater were Anything Goes (1934) and Something for the Boys (1943), with lyrics and music by Cole Porter; Lady in the Dark (1941), with costume design by Irene Sharaff and with actor Danny Kaye as a stereotypical gay character; No Time for Sergeants (1955), with Roddy McDowall; Bells Are Ringing (1958-59), with choreography by Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, and scenic and costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois, with Judy Holliday (Best Actress Tony Award; opened at the Shubert Theater); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962-64; Best Musical Tony Award), with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; and Company (1970) (Best Musical, Book of a Musical, Original Score, and Lyrics Tony Awards) by George Furth, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and musical staging by Michael Bennett.

Other productions with LGBT creators at the Alvin were Spring is Here (1929), Heads Up (1929), I’d Rather Be Right (1937), and The Boys from Syracuse (1938), with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, the latter two with costume design by Irene Sharaff; Red, Hot and Blue! (1936), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter; Very Warm for May (1939-40), with scenic and costume design by Vincente Minnelli; The Firebrand of Florence (1945), with costume design by Raoul Pene Du Bois; Billion Dollar Baby (1945-46), with choreography by Jerome Robbins and scenic design by Oliver Smith, with actor James Mitchell; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), with costume design by Irene Sharaff; Two’s Company (1952-53) and Oh Captain! (1958), with costume design by Miles White; House of Flowers (1954) by Truman Capote, with scenic and costume design by Oliver Messel (Best Scenic Design Tony Award); Jerome Robbins Ballets: U.S.A. (1958), with costume design by Irene Sharaff; West Side Story (return engagement, 1960) by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, choreography by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro, scenic design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Irene Sharaff, with Larry Kert (opened at the Winter Garden Theater); High Spirits (1964-65) directed by Noel Coward, with Beatrice Lillie; Flora, the Red Menace (1965), with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb; It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! (1966), with costume design by Florence Klotz, with actor Jack Cassidy; Sherry! (1967), with costume design by Robert Mackintosh; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967-68), with scenic and costume design by Desmond Heeley (Best Scenic Design and Costume Design Tony Awards); and Merrily We Roll Along (1981), by George Furth, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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Neil Simon Theater

In 1983 it was re-named the Neil Simon Theater. Shows with LGBT creators and performers included Blithe Spirit (revival, 1987) by Noel Coward, with actor Richard Chamberlain; Breaking the Code (1987-88), about Alan Turing, with Derek Jacobi; Orpheus Descending (revival, 1989) by Tennessee Williams; A View from the Bridge (revival, 1998) with Stephen Spinella; Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (1998-99), with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; and The Music Man (revival, 2000-2001), with costume design by William Ivey Long.

Building Information

Architect or Builder: Herbert J. Krapp Year Built: 1927

Sources

Adam Hetrick, “The Work of Broadway’s Gay and Lesbian Artistic Community Goes on Display Nov. 14 When the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery Presents ‘StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design’,” Playbill, Nov. 14, 2007. Internet Broadway Database. “The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013. Alvin Theater Designation Report (New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1985).

Cover Photo

Credit: Sarah Sargent/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2019.

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