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This theatre originally opened as the Mansfield (in honor of the distinguished American actor, Richard Mansfield) on February 15, 1926. On September 12, 1960, it was rechristened the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in tribute to the eminent drama critic of The New York Times. The theatre is currently under the direction of the Messrs. Nederlander.
Recent productions here include The Look of Love; Medea; Noises Off; Jane Eyre; Uncle Vanya; The Rainmaker; The Iceman Cometh; Fool Moon; Wait Until Dark; Taking Sides; Buried Child; On the Waterfront; What’s Wrong with This Picture?; She Loves Me; Death and the Maiden, starring Glenn Close (Tony Award), Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Mike Nichols (1992); Shadowlands, a British play about the romance of author C.S. Lewis and U.S. poet Joy Davidson, starring Jane Alexander and Nigel Hawthorne, who won a Tony Award for his performance (1990). That same year, the theatre housed The Cemetary Club.
In 1989 personal appearances were made here by Stephanie Mills; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Victor Borge. Also on view was a revival of the 1942 play Cafe Crown, which transferred here from the downtown New York Shakespeare Festival. The cast included Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Bob Dishy and David Margulies. Beginning in 1986 through 1988, Jackie Mason’s “The World According to Me,” played several engagements here, garnering a special Tony Award in 1987.
During the 1980’s a series of notable productions played here. Glenn Close, Sam Waterston, Mary Beth Hurt and Simon Jones starred in the British import Benefactors. Rex Harrison, Claudette Colbert, Lynn Redgrave, George Rose and other stars cavorted in a revival of the Frederick Lonsdale comedy Aren’t We All; Dorothy Loudon, Brian Murray and Victor Garber played here from December 1983 to April 1985 in Noises Off; Ben Kingsley As Edmund Kean, a one-man show, played a limited engagement; Liv Ullmann starred in Ghosts; Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy brought lunacy; Tom Courtenay and Paul Rogers won applause in The Dresser; and the 1980’s began with Lanford Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize play, Talley’s Folly, starring Judd Hirsch and Trish Hawkins.
Highlights of the 1970’s included Cliff Gorman in his Tony Award-winning title role of Lenny; the Negro Ensemble Company’s The River Niger; Lynn Redgrave in My Fat Friend; James Earl Jones and Kevin Conway in Of Mice and Men; the smash comedy Same Time, Next Year, starring Ellen Burstyn (Tony Award) and Charles Grodin; and Jack Lemmon in Tribute.
The 1960’s brought Indians with Stacy Keach; Albert Finney and Zena Walker in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg; Dustin Hoffman in Jimmy Shine; Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn; Charles Boyer in Man and Boy; Ustinov’s Halfway Up the Tree; and Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna in Lovers and Other Strangers. Highlights of earlier years: Fredric March in his Tony Award-winning role in Ruth Gordon’s play Years Ago, with his wife Florence Eldridge; Anna Lucasta; and Marc Connelly’s Pulitzer Prize classic The Green Pastures.
Written by Louis Botto