Originally built by Winthrop Ames in 1912, “The Little Theatre” was an intimate 300-seat theatre dedicated to presenting new playwrights and experimental dramas deemed too risky to stage in large Broadway theatres. Through the years, the theatre served as the television studio for “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Dick Clark Show,” as well as the original home of The New York Times town hall. In the 1970s the building was returned to use as a legitimate theatre, and in 1987 New York’s Landmark Preservation commission designated the building as a Landmark Site. Notable engagements at the Helen Hayes over the years have included a five-year run of Albert Innaurato’s Gemini, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-winning Torch Song Trilogy, Tony-winner The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Dirty Blonde, Golda’s Balcony, Xanadu, Rock of Ages, and most recently, Stephen Karam’s Tony-winning The Humans.
Renamed in 1983 to honor the great “First Lady of American Theater,” the Helen Hayes Theatre remains the smallest house on Broadway—a perfect fit for the work Second Stage produces.