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59E59 Theater Complex Unveiled logo
Casey Childs at the 59E59 Theaters
(Photo © Michael Portantiere)
The new 59E59 Theaters complex was unveiled to the press yesterday. Among those in attendance at the event were Elysabeth Kleinhans, president of the theatrical foundation that owns and operates the complex; Casey Childs and Andrew Leynse, executive producer and artistic director of Primary Stages, which is making its new home as the resident company of 59E59's Theater A; Terrence McNally, author of The Stendhal Syndrome, Primary Stages' first production in the new space; and several cast members of The Stendhal Syndrome, including Richard Thomas.

Located at 59 East 59th Street in Manhattan, the complex has three performance spaces: Theater A (199 seats), Theater B (99 seats) and Theater C (50 seats). It was built to help fulfill the goal of The Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation "to provide new and well-equipped theater spaces for not-for-profit companies at reasonable prices."

Amidst tours of the facility yesterday, a press conference was held in Theater A. Elysabeth Kleinhans expressed her happiness that Primary Stages would be the main stage's resident company and noted that construction on theaters B and C would be finished "in a couple of weeks." Casey Childs, executive producer of Primary Stages, said that the company enjoyed its previous home on West 45th street but that the facility was inadequate in terms of restrooms and dressing rooms, which is certainly not the case at 59E59. And Terrence McNally praised the Kleinhans foundation for "diversifying the theater district by opening in such a unique location."

The complex is the first major theater project of architect Leo Modrcin. According to a press release, "the building's architecture has the ambition of a small-scale landmark amongst its high-rise neighbors. Its steet facade is a glazed curtain of metal and laminated wire glass that announces the theatrical events concealed inside. Audience members reach the theaters through the multi-level stairway and behind the glass curtain, thus becoming themselves animated performers when viewed from outside on 59th Street." No photographs of the facade were possible yesterday as it is still covered by scaffolding because, according to Elysabeth Kleinhans, an adjacent construction project is not finished.

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