Friday, February 3, 2017

An appreciation: the Village East Cinema

The Village East Cinema on Second Avenue at 12th Street is one of my favorite places to see a movie here or anywhere.

And the theater was the subject of a recent feature at 6sqft, which provides a history of the space as well as details on the restoration of the main auditorium's ornate ceiling.

Per the post, which features photos by James and Karla Murray:

Village East Cinema was once known as The Louis N. Jaffe Theater, built in 1925-26 by the Brooklyn lawyer, developer and prominent Jewish leader Louis N. Jaffe. Jaffe built the theater as a permanent home for the Yiddish Art Theater to be devoted to the work of Maurice Schwartz, a renowned Yiddish speaking actor known as “Mr. Second Avenue.”

The Yiddish theater produced many of the creative figures of the 20th century American stage, including actors, directors, writers and designers, and had a major influence on theatrical form and content.


Yiddish theater was performed at the Jaffe Art Theater from 1926-1945, but the theater itself changed its names numerous times and housed many different Yiddish theater companies. The theater later showed vaudeville productions and was used an off-Broadway theater venue, housing the original productions of “Grease” and “Joseph & the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which both went on to Broadway.

The theater also was used to show burlesque, dance, concerts, and movies but finally closed in 1988. The interior was converted into a complex of seven movie theaters in 1991 in a way that retains most of the original spaces, but with new uses.

Read the whole post here.

The piece also notes that the theater is on both the State and National Historic Registers and its faรงade and interior including the lobby and domed auditorium are designated New York City landmarks.

A few other FYI things... all screenings before noon are just $8. And on Thursdays, moviegoers 55 and over can get $8 tickets for all times.

And there's a 75th-anniversary screening of "Casablanca" on Feb. 14.

Coming next week:
I went to the AMC Village 7 and got vertigo looking at the carpet...

Previously on EV Grieve:
At the Village East Cinema


pinhead said...

If I knew how to do one of those heart emojis, that.

EV Grieve said...

what one do you want????


Gojira said...

All of 'em, for this wonderful old survivor.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite theaters!

Anonymous said...

I love their Early Riser Special. My kid and I have taken advantage of it many, many times.

I also like it when they've got a Big Money Movie 'cause it plays in the big theater with the original ceiling. We saw Ratatoille and Fantastic Mr. Fox multiple times great as both of those flicks are, the multiple viewings were possibly specifically because sitting in that theater was so nice.

Bryan Keller said...

According to Life and Death on the New York Dancefloor (1980-1983), it was used to host some of the first hip hop nights in New York under the name Negril.

I also recall hearing that it was given to a bunch of art-porn hippies who lived on 14th and 2nd Ave in the late 60s/early 70s for their hippie theatre antics.

Anonymous said...

Great old timey theater
East Village Corner

marykc said...

Bryan Keller, yup, Negril was in the basement of the theatre...good times!

Anonymous said...

Adore the main theater -- so wonderful.

xootrman said...

I remember visiting a photographer's studio there in the '80s. He shot for High Times.

Anonymous said...

I remember when it was for live theater: "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and (my favorite) "1,000 Years of Tap" which featured many of the most famous tap dancers - they were legend.

ninettasgold said...

Thank you, yet again!

cmarrtyy said...

One of the few remaining jewels in the crown of the East Village. A shine to the 99%. A place to sit in the dark around a light and be told a story... without having to take out a loan on a credit card. It's one for all of us.

Anonymous said...

The theater is nice, and they have a good selection of films, but the seats are crappy.