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Second Stage Theatre Buys Its Broadway Home

The off-Broadway mainstay has officially acquired the Helen Hayes Theatre.

The Helen Hayes Theatre marquee.
(photo via yelp.com)

Off-Broadway's nonprofit Second Stage Theatre has completed its $24.7 million purchase of Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre. With this new home, the organization will become the only theater company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to developing and producing works by living American playwrights.

"This is an amazing moment, not only for Second Stage Theatre, but for American playwrights and American theatregoers," said Second Stage Founder and Artistic Director Carole Rothman in a statement. "Second Stage takes the commitment to producing new plays very seriously. We pledge to keep our new theater a bustling center of activity on Broadway, nurturing not only new plays from established and emerging writers, but also feeding a new, diverse generation of theatergoers who will help keep American plays at the heart of the Broadway experience."

Renovations are expected to begin on the 103-year-old landmarked Hayes building, most recently the home of the musical Rock of Ages, in 2016 with The Rockwell Group, headed by architect and Broadway scenic designer David Rockwell. The first production is expected to open on Broadway during the 2017-2018 season. Second Stage will continue to lease and operate the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, their original home on the Upper West Side, as well as the midtown location, the Tony Kiser Theatre, on 43rd Street.

Formerly known as The Little Theatre, the Helen Hayes opened March 12, 1912. It was redesigned in 1920 to increase seating capacity and improve acoustics, before being sold to The New York Times in 1931 for usage as a conference hall. It was purchased in 1979 by Martin Markinson and Donald Tick, who renamed it in honor of legendary actress Hayes in 1983, when a theater formerly called the Helen Hayes was demolished to build the New York Marriott Marquis. The Second Stage purchase has been in the works since 2008.