First the Amato Opera, now this...
The Pearl Theatre Company, which has had a residency at Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place the past 15 years, is relocating to Midtown for its 2009-2010 season.
Said Founding Artistic Director Shepard Sobel in a statement: "While we are disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise, we are thrilled to be moving to the theatre district to usher in this exciting new era of The Pearl in this vibrant new community."
And just what is that "commercial enterprise"? And what becomes of the Theatre 80? What will become of the celebrity footprints and handprints?
Why do we have the fear? Unfortunately, we don't know yet what's replacing the Pearl at 80 St. Mark's Place. We sent an e-mail to a Pearl spokesperson. According to the spokesperson, there are several different possibilities for the space at this time. However, the Pearl isn't privy to that information.
Anyway, here are a few more details about the Pearl's future. The New York City Center Stage II will serve as the new home. The Pearl will lease the space from Manhattan Theatre Club. The final Pearl offering at Theatre 80 is Tennessee Williams' "Vieux Carré," which runs through June 14.)
The new Pearl season will launch Oct. 2 with J.M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western" World under the direction of the Pearl's new artistic director, J.R. Sullivan.
As for the Theatre 80, Howard Otway opened the space as a playhouse in 1967. He later turned it into a revival film house. He died at age 72 in April 1994. As the Times reported, Theatre 80 patrons assumed the venue would close. However, Otway's wife, Florence, continued running the theater.
According to the Times:
In the 1960's, the Otways bought two five-story buildings at 78 and 80 St. Marks Place, site of a famous speakeasy during Prohibition . . . Mrs. Otway remembers the heyday of revivals, from 1975 to 1985, "when people lined up down to Second Avenue." Even in later years, as other revival houses failed, the business was profitable, she said. With a mailing list of 4,000, Mrs. Otway is not worried about competition from VCR's.
Mrs. Otway also lived in an apartment above the theatre. Unfortunately, her tenure was brief. The theatre showed its last double bill -- "High Noon" and "Shane" on July 21, 1994. The Pearl's first production, "King Lear," began on Sept. 8.
Mrs. Otway still owns the two buildings.
For further reading:
Plays to Replace Films at Theatre 80 (The New York Times)
Theatre 80 sign via Warsze on Flickr.
Theatre 80 sidewalk art via Forgotten New York.