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The Neil Simon Theatre is a Broadwaymarker venue built in 1927 and located at 250 West 52nd Street in midtown-Manhattanmarker. As of 2009, the record for its longest running show is held by the musical Hairspray, which opened August 15, 2002 and ran for 2,642 performances before closing on January 4, 2009. A revival production of Ragtime began on October 23, 2009.

History

Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the developer, real estate mogul Alexander Pincus originally named it the Alvin Theatre as an amalgam of the names of producers ALex Aarons and VINton Freedley. With its address originally listed as 244-54 West 42nd Street, it opened on November 22, 1927 with George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire. In 1930, the legendary Ethel Merman made her Broadwaymarker debut in Girl Crazy; in 1934, she appeared again in Cole Porter's Anything Goes and again in 1936 in Porter's Red, Hot and Blue. In 1935, the Gershwins' classic American folk opera Porgy and Bess had its world premiere at the venue. Due to the Great Depression, Aarons and Freedley lost control of their venue in 1932. For a period of time it was used as a radio studio by CBS. In 1960, Lucille Ball appeared in her only Broadwaymarker show, the musical Wildcat. In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her Broadway debut in Flora the Red Menace.

In 1977, the building was purchased by the Nederlander Organization, and was renamed in honor of Americanmarker playwright Neil Simon on June 29, 1983 with the opening of his play Brighton Beach Memoirs. In 1985, its sequel Biloxi Blues also played at the theatre.

The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1985. Historical records show that its original seating capacity was 1,362; in 2002, it was expanded from 1328 to a potential 1467 (depending on usage of the facility, as the presence of an orchestra pit displaces 26 seats) after the May 27, 2002 closing of Elaine Stritch at Liberty. The musical Hairspray subsequently opened on August 15, 2002. Robin Williams was set to perform 5 shows from his latest comedy tour, "Weapons Of Mass Destruction" at this theatre in early October 2009, but this was scrapped in favor for the revival of Ragtime, which opened on November 15, 2009.

Notable productions





References



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