The Neil Simon Theatre


The Neil Simon Theatre, formerly the Alvin Theatre, is a Broadway venue built in 1927 in midtown-Manhattan.
Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the developer, real estate mogul Alexander Pincus originally named it the "Alvin Theatre" as an amalgam of the names of producers Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley. With its address originally listed as 244-54 West 42nd Street, it opened with George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire. In 1930, Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut in Girl Crazy; in 1934, she appeared again in Cole Porter's Anything Goes and again in 1936 in Porter's Red, Hot and Blue. In 1935, the Gershwins' American folk opera Porgy and Bess had its world premiere at the venue. Due to the Great Depression, Aarons and Freedley lost control of their venue in 1932. For a period, CBS used it as a radio studio. In 1960, Lucille Ball appeared in her only Broadway show, the musical Wildcat. In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her Broadway debut in Flora the Red Menace. The original production of Sondheim's Company opened on april 26th 1970, run for 705 performances (after 7 previews and a out-of-town tryout in Boston) and it won six Tony Awards out of 16 record-setting nominations. The original Broadway production of Annie opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin.
In 1977, the Nederlander Organization purchased the structure and renamed it in honor of American playwright Neil Simon on June 29, 1983, the opening of his play Brighton Beach Memoirs. In 1985, its sequel Biloxi Blues also played at the theatre.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building a New York City landmark in 1985. Historical records show that the original seating capacity was 1,362; in 2002, it expanded from 1,328 to a potential 1,467 after the May 27, 2002, closing of Elaine Stritch at Liberty. (To use the orchestra pit, 26 seats must be removed.)
The record for its longest running show is held by the musical Hairspray, which opened August 15, 2002, and ran for 2,642 performances before closing on January 4, 2009.