Beacon Theatre (New York City)

Beacon Theatre (New York City)

Infobox Venue
name = Beacon Theatre

image_caption =
nickname =
location = Broadway, New York City, New York
coordinates =
type = Indoor theater
broke_ground =
built =
opened = 1929
renovated =
expanded =
closed =
demolished =
owner =
former_names =
seating_type = Reserved
seating_capacity = 2,800
The Beacon Theatre, also known as Beacon Theater and Hotel, is an historic New York City theater on upper Broadway in Manhattan. A 2,800-seat, three-tiered concert hall and early movie palace, it was designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager as a forum for vaudeville, musical productions, and motion pictures. Today it is one of New York's leading live entertainment venues.


The Beacon Theatre was originally conceived in 1927 as part of a projected chain of deluxe New York City movie palaces. The planned Roxy Theatre Circuit was to be operated by Samuel L. "Roxy" Rothafel and Herbert Lubin with the famous Roxy Theatre as its flagship. Planned as the Roxy Midway Theatre, the future Beacon was designed by W. W. Ahlschlager, the 6,000-seat Roxy's architect, as a smaller mate to the great Times Square theater. However the collapse of Lubin's fortunes doomed the Roxy scheme and the Midway was never opened. The nearly completed theater sat vacant for a time and was eventually acquired by Warner Theatres to be a first run showcase for Warner Brothers films on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The renamed Warner's Beacon Theatre opened on December 24, 1929. Designed as a silent film showplace, the theatre's delayed opening featured a talking picture (Tiger Rose with Lupe Velez), silents having already become obsolete.

Later operated by Brandt Theaters, the Beacon continued as a primarily first-run movie theater into the early 1970's. In the mid 1970's the theater began its new life as a presenter of live concerts. In 1987, an effort to convert the theater into a nightclub was blocked in court on the grounds that it would irreparably damage the theater's historic and protected architecture. Subsequently the theater underwent a revival in its concert hall business, filling New York's low-to-mid-sized venue notch between the larger Radio City Music Hall and various smaller clubs and ballrooms. Infobox nrhp
name =Beacon Theater and Hotel
nrhp_type = nrhp

caption =
location = 2124 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, New York
lat_degrees = 40
lat_minutes = 46
lat_seconds = 50
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 73
long_minutes = 58
long_seconds = 52
long_direction = W
locmapin = New York
area =
built = 1929White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot; "AIA Guide to New York City", 4th Edition; New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. 2000. ISBN 0-8129-31069-8; ISBN 0-8129-3107-6. p.343.]
added = November 04, 1982cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2008-04-15|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
architect = Walter W. Ahlschlager
architecture =
refnum = 82001187 [Nrhp source1|NY|New+York|state]
mpsub =
governing_body =Private
With its superior acoustics designed for vaudeville, the theater is now the leading Upper West Side venue for R&B, pop, and rock concerts. Headliners in the modern era have included Bob Marley, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Jerry Garcia, Tori Amos, James Taylor, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Bob Weir (of Grateful Dead fame), Phish, Queen, Taylor Hicks, They Might Be Giants, Eric Johnson and many others. Ozzy Osbourne performed two shows on consecutive nights, June 2nd and June 3rd, in 1984 with Motley Crue opening up. Govt. Mule annually performs 3 nights at the theater at end of December known as their "Beacon Run". From the mid-1990s on, the musical act most associated with the theater has been The Allman Brothers Band, who take over the venue in March of each year for an extended series of shows known among the group and their fans as "The Beacon Run". The venue has become a second "Fillmore" for the band.

The theater's stage has also supported political debates, gospel choirs, and a wide variety of dramatic productions. VH-1 broadcast its popular production "Divas Live" from there. Many of George Carlin's HBO comedy specials have been broadcast from or filmed there. In the 2000s, the Beacon Theater often offers light comedy geared toward African-American audiences, making it a favorite destination for troupes working the Chitlin Circuit. The 2008 IMAX film of a live concert by The Rolling Stones, Shine a Light, directed by Martin Scorsese was filmed at the Beacon Theatre.

In November, 2006, the theater commenced a 20-year lease by Cablevision, which also leases Radio City Music Hall and owns Madison Square Garden. The company announced a planned a $10 million renovation of the theater. [ [,0,5052220.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork] ]

While one or two others survive as churches, the Beacon is the last of Manhattan's many lavish 1920's movie palaces still operating as an entertainment venue with its original fantasy architecture intact. As such it holds a special place in the cultural life of New York.

Architecture and Decor

The Beacon's ornate neo-Grecian interior features thirty-foot-tall Greek goddesses flanking the proscenium arch of its curtainless stage, which can rise from its basement level carrying a full classical orchestra. Under its marquee is an exterior lobby with tile flooring extending to the sidewalk along Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets, across from the Beaux-Arts Ansonia Hotel. Entry is gained through its bronze-doored vestibule into an opulent two-story circular lobby. White marble floors give way to mahogany bars on both the orchestra and mezzanine levels, and two more levels provide access to both the foot and top of its steeply inclined upper balcony. Exquisite detailing abounds throughout, including elaborate gilded plaster moldings, polished hardwood, and brass staircase rails. Corridor murals depict atmospheric Eastern scenes of trading caravans complete with elephants, camels and other animals.


The Beacon Theatre is located at 2124 Broadway in New York City. Traveling from Midtown Manhattan it is reached via express 2 or 3 or local 1 subway trains to the 72nd Street (IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line) station two blocks from the theater.


External links

* [ Official Beacon Theatre website]
* [ listing for Beacon]
* [ Cinema Treasures listing for the Beacon]

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