A Broadway beauty gets a makeover

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The star of Marvel's "Captain America" series will soon make his Broadway debut in a renovated theater that I first told you about last year. Chris Evans is best known for the blockbusters seen by millions of people around the world, but come March, he'll play to less than 600 people every night in Midtown.

It will happen in the heart of the Theater District, where a Broadway beauty is coming back to life. The Helen Hayes Theatre was a construction zone when I first told you about this nine months ago, and it's come a long way since then. They are going back to the future.

With one eye on the past and the other on what's ahead, the second act for this theater comes courtesy of a non-profit group called Second Stage.

"It's the smallest of the Broadway theaters, a beautiful gem," said David Rockwell, designer and architect, "and so Second Stage wanted to honor that past but breathe new life in it."

The transformation of the space is almost complete. They were getting all the seat bases in, when I walked the floor with Rockwell who showed me as worker positioned them. Once they get them in place, then the backs go on.

"When you sit in this seat, you're really going to enjoy watching the shows," said Carole Rothman, Second Stage's Artistic Director. The seats are done in a shimmering, copper fabric, "because we're obviously a theater that does, you know, modern plays, so we didn't want it to look like red velvet like other theaters look like."

A lot of challenges have been overcome since I first met Carole here last year, and at the public unveiling less than a month away she says, "You're going to come in and you're going to see the classic theater, but in a very modern way."

Her architect is also famous as a theatrical designer. Rockwell drew inspiration from a tapestry that once hung on these walls, and came up with an idea using paint and pixels.

He told me the idea is to go, "from deepest blue at the proscenium where you want the deepest blue 'cause you're focused on the stage, and then as it moves to the back, it gets lighter and lighter and lighter."

If you look closely, an image comes into focus. It's just one reason Rockwell says, "This is a dream-come-true project and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
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