With its unusual Neo-Georgian design, the Hayes is a striking presence on 44th Street. But the century-old building showed its age and needed significant upgrades in order to provide our artists and audiences with the production values and amenities they expect. Collaborating with renowned architect and theatrical designer David Rockwell and Rockwell Group, we're bringing new life to the building, focusing on:
We’re modernizing the entire building to create a more welcoming environment with a new café lounge, a space for hosting readings, and expanded dressing rooms for our artists. Best of all, we’re nearly doubling the number of restrooms!
We’re adding a wheelchair-friendly box office, a full-service elevator, and new seating options throughout the auditorium. For the first time in the building’s history, mobility-impaired guests will have the same freedom of movement and choice of seats as everyone else.
We’re transforming the theater to give it a fresh look that blends the building’s history with our modern style, with a cool environmental mural designed by Rockwell Group and EverGreene Architectural Arts. The building’s HVAC will be completely overhauled, and we’re upgrading the stage’s technical capacity to give our artists the very best canvas for their work. Overall, our renovation is designed to achieve LEED silver certification.
“The Helen Hayes is kind of a perfect fit, because it’s a little bit smaller house, and yet it has the profile of Broadway. So it’s just the best of both worlds.”
- Tony Shalhoub, Actor, 2ST’s The Scene; “Monk”
Originally built by Winthrop Ames in 1912, “The Little Theatre” was an intimate 300-seat theater dedicated to presenting new playwrights and experimental dramas deemed too risky to stage in large Broadway theater. Through the years, the theater 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 theater, 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 Theater remains the smallest house on Broadway—a perfect fit for the work Second Stage produces.