Monday, August 09, 2010



Goodbye Hilton Theatre. Hello Foxwoods.

As in the Connecticut resort and casino.

Effective today, Live Nation has once again sold out with new naming rights for its beleaguered barn of a theatre that was initially opened by convicted producer Garth Drabinksy's Livent, Inc., on January 26, 1998, as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Livent had acquired two theatres, the Lyric and the Apollo, gutting and banging them together with some of their original architectural elements remaining in the "new" 1829 seat theatre that's been created in their place.

In its brief 14 year history as a Broadway venue, the theatre has only housed eight shows, most of them flops and/or produced at a financial loss due to their over-the-top nature. With respect to the latter, an excellent case in point is the venue's original tenant Ragtime. Shortly after it opened in 1998, Livent declared bankruptcy, and SFX Theatrical Group swooped in to take ownership (SFX would ultimately become part of Clear Channel and then Live Nation).

The biggest hit that played the Ford Center for the Performing Arts was 42nd Street, which took home 2001 Tonys for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress for Christine Ebersole. The production lasted nearly four years and a total of 1524 performances.

Shortly after 42nd Street closed, Hilton Hotels was granted naming rights (Hilton's Times Square property is directly across the street from the theatre). Only four shows have played in the theatre during that time, and nothing has played there since Young Frankenstein closed on January 4, 2009.

Of course, the next occupant was already supposed to be playing to record-breaking crowds. And while Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has finally loaded-in with rehearsals about to get into high gear, presumably for a much-delayed fall 2010 opening, the theatre itself has been turned off in darkness for so long, it's probably no wonder that Live Nation was seeking yet another corporate sponsor's name to plaster on the building.

I'm no fan of such naming rights. It cheapens both the landscape and the landmarks themselves.

If I can take hope, it's from one landmark Broadway theatre that had a five year fling with one corporate sponsor. That affair blessedly didn't last. As of 2007, the original Winter Garden name stands alone. Miracles really can still happen on Broadway.

As for the newly minted Foxwoods Theatre, perhaps some of their luck will rub off on what is arguably Broadway's unluckiest venue. I'll bet they're counting on a full house.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 09 August, 2010, Blogger Kevin Daly said...

Nothing at that theatre has ever recouped. Even that production of "42nd Street" closed in the red.

At 09 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Kevin. 42nd Street may have closed in the red, but it was certainly a critical hit.

At 09 August, 2010, Blogger Esther said...

The Hilton/Foxwoods is a barn. When I saw Young Frankenstein I was toward the back of the orchestra and I felt soooo far away.

To me, it's just tone deaf to the history of Broadway and American theatre.

But it's a business decision and in tough financial times I guess people are still gambling.

My bigger concern is whether this is the next step in Foxwoods presenting more musicals. (A production of Hairspray played there in December.)

It's not as accessible as a downtown area in a city and I'd hate to see tours migrating there instead of to Boston or Hartford or Providence.

At 09 August, 2010, Blogger Bob said...

"Ah, liaisons..."


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