Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre has a new owner! After a somewhat rocky period of negotiation, off-Broadway theater company Second Stage Theatre has completed its purchase of the Helen Hayes. Currently dark, the venue, located at 240 W. 44th Street, most recently housed long-running hit Rock of Ages.
Second Stage will dedicate the house to producing the work of living American playwrights, the only Great White Way house to do so. Renovations and upgrades are currently scheduled to begin to the theater in 2016, where Second Stage will present its its first production on Broadway during the 2017-18 season.
When it opened in 1912, the Little Theatre (as it was then known) was built as an intimate house to present new playwrights and experimental dramas that were deemed too risky to stage in large Broadway theaters. During its history it has housed television and radio shows for ABC and CBS, including The Dick Clark Show, and the Merv Griffin and David Frost shows. After the original Helen Hayes Theatre on 46th Street was razed in the 1980s to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the Little Theatre was renamed the Helen Hayes to honor the then still-living legend. With 597 seats, it is the smallest theater on Broadway.