Lena Horne Theatre Coming To Broadway Next Month

Lena Horne Theatre Coming To Broadway Next Month

When the Brooks Atkinson Theatre is renamed for the legendary stage, film, and musical star Lena Horne by The Nederlander Organization and a new marquee is unveiled next month, she will make history as the first Black woman to have a Broadway theatre dedicated after her.

The corporation, which is now being led by James L. Nederlander, made the rebranding announcement today. On Tuesday, November 1, there will be a ceremonial celebration in front of the 47th Street theatre where the musical Six is presently playing.

The organisation, which owns nine Broadway theatres, made the announcement today that it would rename the theatre in honour of Lena Horne. They said that by doing so, “new generations of theatregoers will be introduced to the legendary Lena Horne, an entertainer who broke barriers for other Black women to follow in her footsteps, and through this recognition will continue to inspire future generations of theatregoers.”

Christina Selby and Jacquelyn Bell are co-producing the renaming ceremony, which will feature DJ-ed music, speeches, performances, and the opening of a new marquee. According to the press release, “legendary stars and luminaries from the Broadway and entertainment worlds” will take part in the event, with further details to be revealed.

The ceremony will fulfil a promise made by multiple Broadway theatre owners in 2020 to recognise Black theatre performers by renaming at least one of their venues in conjunction with Black Theatre United. The Virginia Theatre, previously owned by Jujamcyn Theaters, was renamed the August Wilson Theatre in 2005, and the Cort Theater was formally renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre by the Shubert Organization last month.

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Before her death in 2010, Horne had the distinction of becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical. This recognition came in 1957 for her performance in the musical Jamaica. Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, in which she starred and in which James M. Nederlander was also a producer, ran at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway in 1981. Horne was honoured with a special Tony Award for the production, in addition to two Grammys for the cast album.

The Mansfield Theatre opened in 1925; during the 1950s, CBS converted it into a television studio; in 1960, it reopened as a “legitimate” theatre, and it was renamed for the recently retired New York Times theatre critic Brooks Atkinson (he died in 1984). After the impending change, Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre will be the only theatre on Broadway still bearing the name of a theatrical critic (the Mark Hellinger Theatre was converted into a church in 1989).

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