A theatre by any other name...Well, now that I'm back from the beach it's time to add a little more "Manhattan" to this Manhattan Chowder. I promise to return to my travelogue emails soon, too.
There has been a campaign in recent years to rename some of the old Broadway theatres for composers or playwrights. For example, the 46th Street theatre is now the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Alvin is the Neil Simon, etc. This seems a worthwhile cause to me. But lately corporate America is getting in on the act, too. They buy a theatre or renovate it and then name it after themselves. This trend started with the "Ford Center for the Arts" where Ragtime opened a few years ago and featured a number about Henry Ford himself. Ford Motors has since sold the theatre to Hlton and it is now the Hilton Theatre. (Named for the hotel chain--not the heiress.) The Hilton Theatre is just down the street from The American Airlines Theatre which sounds to me more like an attraction at Epcot Center than it does a legitimate Broadway house.
Last night I went to see a new production of The Fantasticks at the Snapple Theatre Center. That's right. Snapple. It's on 50th Street just west of Broadway right in the glare of the lights of Times Square; a far cry from the Sullivan Street Theatre downtown where The Fantasticks originally opened and ran for over 30 years. The theatre itself is a typical black box type much like Sullivan Street, but unlike Sullivan Street I couldn't help but notice the glitz of the main entrance as pictured in the first photo below. The actual marquis of this 200 some-odd seat theatre extends half a block to the intersection of 50th and Broadway as can be seen in the second photo. And what do you suppose they serve at intermission at the Snapple Theatre Center? You guessed it--Snapple! By the way, the Snapple Theatre Center is catty corner across from the "Cadillac" Winter Garden Theatre pictured last.
I can only imagine if someone like Merman was here today she might say something like "In my day a theatre was either a Shubert or a Nederlander and the Ford Theatre was someplace where Lincoln got shot!"