Second Stage giving Helen Hayes Theatre new life ahead of Chris Evans' Broadway debut

Thursday, April 20, 2017 04:56PM
Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has the latest details.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan - The star of Marvel's "Captain America" series will make his Broadway debut next year in a renovated theater that is now getting a new life.

Chris Evans is best known for the blockbusters seen by millions of people around the world, but in March of 2018, he'll play to less than 600 people every night in Midtown.

It's part of an ambitious plan announced by the Second Stage Theatre Company, which has bought the Helen Hayes Theatre for its new home and is now completely renovating 44th Street jewel.

Carole Rothman is the artistic director.

"I am really thinking about when it's all going to be finished and what the audiences are going to see, because it's a very beautiful house," she said. "It doesn't look like it now, but the audiences will be really excited. There will be a really good relationship to the actors."

The plan is to finish the restoration by this time next year, in time for Evans to make his Broadway debut opposite Michael Cera in a play from Kenneth Lonergan, the writer/director of the Oscar-nominated "Manchester by the Sea."

"We have a long history of producing plays by a diverse number of writers, from all different ethnicities," Rothmman said.

Those present for the announcement represent the face of the future on Broadway, and their plan for the space is as bold as the theater.

"I'm like an experimental sort of downtown playwright, and the gulf between me and Broadway is actually incredibly vast," playwright Young Jean Lee said. "So until Second Stage did this, you know, it would be almost unthinkable that a play of mine would be on Broadway, that it would get there."

When it's done, the Helen Hayes will be a home for playwrights, actors and stories you might not otherwise see on Broadway. Second Stage will feature only the work of living, American writers, so no classics and no "Chekhov translations."