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Al Hirschfeld theater christened

Good News and Bad news. The Bad news is that Sunday afternoon, June 22, 2003 we gave the last performance of "Man of La Mancha" at the Martin Beck theatre. The good news is that Tuesday evening we will be performing the show once again at the newly renamed Al Hirschfeld Theatre. This is a rare event on Broadway - to be performing in a show when a theatre is renamed - you could probably count on one hand the number of existing theatres that have gone through such an event.

The theatre was opened in 1924 by Vaudeville mogul Martin Beck. The Beck family owned it until 1966, when it was sold to the Jujamcyns. It was at the time (and still is) the theatre located farther west than any other Broadway house. It opened on November 11the with a Viennese operetta Mme. Pompadour. 

Some of the actors that have walked its boards: Ethel Barrymore, the Lunts, Burgess Meredith, E.G. Marshall, Tallulah Bankhead, Pearl Baily, Katherine Hepburn, Cliff Robertson, Leslie Uggams, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Celeste Holm, Raul Julia, Geraldine Page and Paul Newman. Some of the shows have been On the Town, The Iceman Cometh, The Crucible, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Little Foxes, into the Woods, Guys and Dolls, The Sound of Music. The Original "Man of La Mancha" with Richard Kiley moved here from the Anta theatre and enjoyed a long run. And of course this was the theatre where I won my Tony Award for Kiss Me Kate.  It is one of my favorite of all the Broadway Houses.

For those that are not familiar, Al Hirschfeld has been the the visual archivist of Broadway - his line drawings have appeared in the New York times for Decades (along with the hidden "Ninas") and he has captured hundreds of BroaBroadway personalities. There is a wonderful documentary about him entitled "The Line King". He has captured me 4 times - for Mail, my Broadway Debut show, for the cover of the Broadway Cares Christmas album, for Ragtime and for Kiss me Kate.

Originally this change-over was to coincide with Mr. Hirschfeld's 100th birthday (!), but unfortunately he passed away about 3 months ago, so now the dedication will be a celebration of his life and his art.

I will be appearing in the dedication performance on Monday night at the theatre along with  appearances by Walter Cronkite, Arthur Miller, Carol Channing, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Frank Langella, Whoopi Goldberg, Hal Prince, Audra McDonald and a number of other Broadway personalities.  I will be singing "Look at that face" with the addition of a special last verse I have written in honor of Mr. Hirschfeld.

A special shout out to Mr. Martin Beck for creating this beautiful theatre. I may not have a Tony were it not for him, and hundreds of thousands (millions?) of patrons would certainly not have enjoyed the shows that have been performed on that stage.

I feel like the luckiest actor in the world, having gotten to be the first person to sing at the dedication of the Ford Center for Performing Arts on 44th street and I feel equally honored to be in the "first" show that will perform in the newly renamed "Al Hirschfeld" theatre. 

I hope that you all continue to see our "Man of La Mancha" - a great old show in a great old theatre with a brand new name.
 

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