Beacon Theatre New York City
Beacon Theatre – Must See Tourist Attraction in New York City
Beacon Theatre – Attractions in NYC, New York, USA
The Beacon Theatre, also known as the Beacon Theater and Hotel, is an historic New York City theater on upper Broadway in Manhattan. A 2,800-seat, three-tiered movie palace, it was designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager for motion pictures and vaudeville. Today it is one of New York’s leading live music and entertainment venues.
The Beacon Theatre was originally conceived in 1927 as part of a projected chain of deluxe New York City movie palaces. The planned Roxy Theatre Circuit was to be operated by Samuel L. “Roxy” Rothafel and Herbert Lubin with the famous Roxy Theatre as its flagship. Planned as the Roxy Midway Theatre, the future Beacon was designed by Ahlschlager, the architect of the 6,000-seat Roxy, as a smaller mate to the great Times Square theater. However, the collapse of Lubin’s fortunes doomed the Roxy scheme and the Midway was never opened. The nearly completed theater sat vacant for a time and was eventually acquired by Warner Theatres to be a first-run showcase for Warner Brothers films on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The renamed Warner’s Beacon Theatre opened on December 24, 1929. Designed as a silent film showplace, the theatre’s delayed opening featured a talking picture (Tiger Rose with Lupe Velez), silents having already become obsolete.
Later operated by Brandt Theaters, the Beacon continued as a primarily first-run movie theater into the early 1970s. In the mid 1970s the theater began its new life as a presenter of live concerts. In 1987, an effort to convert the theater into a nightclub was blocked in court on the grounds that it would irreparably damage the theater’s historic and protected architecture. Subsequently the theater underwent a revival in its concert hall business, filling New York’s low-to-mid-sized venue notch between the larger Radio City Music Hall and various smaller clubs and ballrooms.
With its superior acoustics designed for vaudeville, the theater is now the leading Upper West Side venue for R&B, pop, and rock concerts. Headliners in the modern era have included Bob Marley, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Jerry Garcia, Tori Amos, James Taylor, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Bob Weir (of Grateful Dead fame), Phish, Queen, Taylor Hicks, They Might Be Giants, Eric Johnson and many others. Ozzy Osbourne performed two shows on consecutive nights, June 2nd and June 3rd, in 1984 with Mötley Crüe opening up. Govt. Mule annually performs 3 nights at the theater at end of December known as their “Beacon Run”. From the mid-1990s on, the musical act most associated with the theater has been The Allman Brothers Band, who take over the venue in March of each year for an extended series of shows known among the group and their fans as “The Beacon Run”. The venue has become a second “Fillmore” for the band.
The theater’s stage has also supported political debates, gospel choirs, and a wide variety of dramatic productions. VH-1 broadcast its popular production Divas Live from there. Many of George Carlin’s HBO comedy specials have been broadcast from or filmed there. In the 2000s, the Beacon Theater often offers light comedy geared toward African-American audiences, making it a favorite destination for troupes working the Chitlin Circuit. The 2008 IMAX film of a live concert by The Rolling Stones, Shine a Light, directed by Martin Scorsese was filmed at the Beacon Theatre.
In November, 2006, the theater commenced a 20-year lease by Cablevision, which also leases Radio City Music Hall and owns Madison Square Garden. The company announced a planned $10 million renovation of the theater. While one or two others survive as churches, the Beacon is the last of Manhattan’s many lavish 1920s movie palaces still operating as an entertainment venue with its original fantasy architecture intact. As such it holds a special place in the cultural life of New York.
New York City, New York
1, 2, or 3 trains to West 72nd Street / Broadway
(Walk two blocks north)
A, B, or C trains to 72nd Street / Central Park West
(Walk two blocks north and three avenues west)
Thomas & Friends Live! On Stage
17 – 19 April 2009
Get ready as Thomas & Friends returns to the Beacon Theatre with an ALL NEW, live musical adventure: Thomas & Friends Live! On Stage: A Circus Comes to Town.
This is the LAST CHANCE to get tickets before they go on sale to the general public on Sunday, November 23 at 10AM!