Ah, Facebook. The town crier of the 21st century. Not to say that I’m addicted, obsessed or preoccupied — sorry, Mark Zuckerberg — but I noticed the other day that my friend and colleague, playwright and producer Tony Sportiello, was touting a new theater space downtown at the South Street Seaport. Being a native New Yorker, I do love the seaport and love how magnificent the area has become over the last decade or more. Tourists do, I admit, make me crazy, but they spend money and, equally important, when they return to wherever they’re from, they tell the world how great Gotham is, so they’re welcome to swarm the seaport all they like.
And what the seaport does need — indeed, what the whole area south of Chambers Street needs — are more cultural facilities, especially as the population grows by leaps and bounds. A new theater? Very sweet.
So I sent Sportiello a note, we chatted and I asked for some copy that I could share with you here on the CFR. I’m very happy to report that I wasn’t delusional on Facebook — sorry, Mark Zuckerberg — this is indeed a new space, with more information on build-out, etc., still to come.
First up, the 411, courtesy of Sportiello:
Algonquin Theater Productions (the site will be updated soon) announces its plans to move to Pier 17 and the South Street Seaport, starting in March 2011. The producers of Sessions, The Devil and Billy Markham, An Evening at the Carlyle, Same Train, LOL, Unmitigated Truth and other plays left its home at 123 E. 24th St. in January of 2010 and were content to focus on their shows out of town, but in the words of Artistic Director Tony Sportiello, “The deal at the Seaport was simply too good to pass up. The management there reached out to us and made it almost impossible to refuse. They were extremely helpful throughout the negotiations, as they really want a performance space there. They have more than five million people attending the Seaport every year, which is a figure any theater would love. That, combined with the prosperous and growing Battery Park area, convinced us that an audience could be found for legitimate theater.”
The new space will tentatively be called Algonquin Seaport Theater.
So what’s going to happen here? I’ll let Sportiello’s copy continue the story:
The plan is to eventually build a 200-seat theater which would accommodate Off-Broadway shows. The space is on the second floor of the Seaport mall. The view from the back of the theater looks out over the water and offers a breathtaking shot of the Brooklyn Bridge. For the first part of 2011, Sportiello says the plan is to open up with cabaret shows, musical revues, some bands and comedy acts. “We need to get people down to the theater, to show them how easy it is to get to and also show them what else is around there. Some of the best restaurants in the city are within walking distance of the Seaport. The mall itself has over 100 shops in its interior. And, of course, there’s the view.”
Sessions co-producer Jason Hewitt (Ten Grand Productions) found the location and initiated negotiations with the Seaport. He felt the 3,700-square-foot space could be used in a variety of ways and purposes. He brought the space to Sportiello’s attention and the two agreed to share the running of it….
Sportiello hopes to open the space officially in April of 2011.
Click on the links above to learn more about Sportiello, Hewitt and Algonquin Productions.
And see you at the Seaport. Here’s the dreamy view (of Brooklyn):