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MSG Entertainment -- Beacon Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Brandt Theaters, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Architects: Walter W. Ahlschlager
Functions: Concerts, Movies (Film Festivals)
Previous Names: Warner Bros. Beacon Theatre
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News About This Theater
- Feb 16, 2009 — Beacon Theatre reopens after $16 million restoration
The Warner Bros. Beacon Theatre was opened on December 24, 1929 with Monte Blue and Lupe Velez in “Tiger Rose”. It was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager who also designed the Roxy Theatre in 1927. The Beacon Theatre was considered to be a little sister of the Roxy Theatre. Inside the auditorium a polychrome sunburst plaster canopy projects above the stage, supported at the corners by two great lances. Seated golden lions on either side of the balcony are silouetted against bright murals by Danish artist Valdemar Kjoldgaard depicting caravans of traders. It is equipped with a Wurlitzer 4 manual 19 ranks theatre organ. It was operated by Warner Bros. until 1932. By 1950 it was operated by Brandt Theaters.
Until 1986, the Beacon Theatre was the largest surviving picture palace in Manhattan. However, later that year the Beacon Theatre was bought by new owners who announced plans to convert the theatre to a discotheque, thus altering the original 2,657 person seating capacity of the theatre.
Despite opposition by the general community, the Beacon Theatre was granted permission by the city landmarks commission to convert the building’s interior to a nightclub. In 1989 the Beacon Theatre was designated a national landmark and is now on the Register of Historic Places.
The Beacon Theatre hosted concerts, and the theatre ‘starred’ in Martin Scorsese’s documentary “Shine a Light” about the Rolling Stones 2006 shows at the theatre.
In November 2006, Madison Square Garden Entertainment(MSG), a division of Cablevision, began operating the Beacon Theatre under a twenty year lease from the Beacon Broadway Company, which has long owned the theatre. After a seven month, $16 million restoration, the Beacon Theatre reopened February 13, 2009 with concerts by Paul Simon. New dressing rooms, a maple stage floor and new air conditioning were installed. Paint was removed from the Broadway ticket booth to reveal brass, glass and marble. Original murals were restored or replicated. 2,100 square yards of wool carpet in gold, yellow, green and maroon was replicated after a remnant was discovered. New draperies with gold tassels replaced long gone originals. Since 2018 in April/May the Beacon Theatre has been used by the Tribeca Film Festival.
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Recent comments (view all 159 comments)
It has been the home to the Tony awards for the past 2 years.
When I lived in NYC in the 1960s I used to go to the Beacon frequently – it still showed films then. Although a bit run-down, it was still a beautiful film palace, one of the last in the city. It is heartening to learn of its restoration. Alas, too bad about the splendid Broadway Paramount – another beautiful theater converted to offices. Too bad they could not have restored that one also!
See my comment on radio city…msg entertainment stock will be a good investment
Is anyone familiar with the current status of the Beacon’s great Wurlitzer organ? Is it playable/actually played. I’ve read that the console has been buried underneath a stage extension since the 2008 renovation. (Not unlike the Beacon’s sister Roxy Theatre’s Kimball. Fortunately, the Beacon’s organ’s pipes speak from chambers above the stage, not below it as at the Roxy.) Thanks.
Looking gorgeous on tonight’s Tony Awards…
The Beacon was originally supposed to be one of theatres in a Roxy movie chain backed by William Fox. I am so glad it has been basically restored to its original condition.
Next month, the Tribeca Film Festival will include two special screenings at the Beacon Theatre to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Brian De Palma’s “Scarface” (April 19th) and the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” (April 26th). More details here
I lived at the queens bridge housing project, and frequented the Beacon Theatre for 50 cents. I recall, toys were given out, to the winner of the lucky ticket, after a brief short was played of race of some kind. Good memories.
A segment of the Today show that aired today was shot at this venue featuring an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, who frequently uses the Beacon for stand up comedies. 30 years ago this week, Seinfeld made its debut on NBC and soon became a hit.
To answer the question from MarkDHite from 2016. Yes, the organ is still there under the stage extension. Members of the New York Theatre Organ Society have in the past offered our services to bring the organ back to life but the Beacon wants no part of it. I’m just glad they haven’t thrown it into a dumpster.